Here’s great news for all those who believe in correct nutrition for the youth of this world! According to a recent update of the Pueblo Chieftain, Walmart Foundation granted $40,000 to Posada of Pueblo for spreading awareness of good nutrition amongst local homeless youth and feeding them to nutritious meals. Now, isn’t that a laudable initiative of Walmart Foundation? After all, the youth of any country are the architect of its present and future, and good nutrition is the most important contributor to their efficiency.
Not only homeless youth, but even those from good homes are suffering from malnutrition today! Surprised? Well, lack of awareness of the nutritional needs of adolescents is the culprit. Let us take a look at some general dietary guidelines for youth.
Adequate and Well-Balanced Meals for a Slim Body
Very often we find teenagers eating less, as they are obsessed by the concept of starving for an enviable figure. They also develop serious eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. However, they should be made aware that it is not eating less, but good metabolism of what they eat that leads to maintaining a slim and trim figure.
By eating less, they only encourage their digestive systems to process their intake inefficiently, thus resulting in the deposition of fat in different parts of the body. Adolescents are quite choosy about what they eat. They consume only foods that taste good and leave out others. This creates are nutritional imbalance in their bodies, giving rise to a number of associated diseases.
Calcium-rich Foods for Hardy Bones
The body develops bone strength and bone density during adolescence by using dietary calcium. Specifically, girls require calcium to increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis in the future. Dairy milk is the best source of calcium. Green leafy vegetables, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, finger millet and sesame seeds are excellent sources of calcium.
Regular Meals for Strong Health
Adolescence is a period of both physical and mental growth and development. In this phase of transformation from childhood to adulthood, the adolescent needs adequate nutrition and therefore cannot afford to miss out on even a single meal. In this period, individuals tend to replace nutritious food with junk food, or fad diets. This should be avoided as deprivation of the body from nutrients during this phase is going to harm the body severely in adulthood.
Colorful and Attractive Food for Palatability
Though eating healthy food is emphasized for youth, the person planning and preparing the meals for a youth should bear in mind that youth can still be quite fastidious in their food choices. Every youth may not be mature enough to value food on its nutritional worth. They may prefer to have foods that look, smell and taste good. Hence, meals should be cooked keeping this aspect in view.
Avoid Soft Drinks To Prevent Obesity
Soft drinks are very popular with school and college students. Media commercials have helped a lot in increasing the publicity of these carbonated beverages which only help accumulate empty calories in the body. Encourage your teenagers to have more of fresh fruit juices, which are tasty and highly nutritious, instead.
Iron-rich Foods for Good Quality Blood
Youth, especially, those belonging to the female gender require iron, which plays an important role in the transportation of oxygen and carbon-dioxide in the body as a part of haemoglobin, the red blood pigment. Iron deficiency results in anaemia. Teenagers should be given attractive dishes made of leafy green vegetables, Italian millet, rice flakes and whole wheat flour. Rice flakes snack mix and whole wheat flour breads, with fillings of leafy green vegetables with cheese or mayonnaise are surely going to be a mouth-watering addiction for adolescents, who are bowled over by tasty food.
Protein for Adorable Muscles
Youth need protein for meeting their special body building demands. As you may be aware, both girls and boys develop secondary sexual organs during adolescence. The protein intake of boys and girls should be 1gm/kg of their body weights. However, boys need greater protein for building greater muscle mass than girls. Milk is a good source of protein. Vegetarians can have pulses in combination with milk to complete their protein requirements.
However, as pulses and other vegetarian foods do not have all the required proteins individually, they should be eaten in combination with one another in order to supply the complete set of proteins required by the human body. Non-vegetarians and lacto ovo vegetarians should regularly have egg, which is an excellent source of protein. High quality proteins can be obtained from fish and meat.
Energy for Efficiency
Youth need immense mental and physical energy. Primarily, the body of an adolescent needs energy for the effective functioning of the metabolic and other processes, and bodily changes. An adolescent has to meet the energy demands of his/her body for functioning as an efficient individual in society as per the standard age-appropriate physical, intellectual and emotional expectations. They need energy to cope efficiently with their fast-paced, performance-oriented and competitive lives. The American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of 1800 kcals for girls and 2200 kcals for boys in the age group of 14-18 years. On similar lines, ICMR recommendations for boys and girls in the age group of 16-18 years are 2640 kcals of energy and 2060 kcals of energy respectively.
In order to meet their energy demands, adolescents tend to gorge more on foods that are high in sugar and fats in the form of junk foods. Healthy and tasty dishes made of foods containing complex carbohydrates such as burgers made of whole wheat flour bread, mashed potato salad, and spicy gravies made of leguminous foods are surely appetizing options. You can also explore innovative dishes with cereals, pulses and root vegetables.
Dietary Fiber for a Happy Tummy
Dietary fiber is an important constituent of food. It contributes significantly to the overall health of the digestive system by aiding the efficient elimination of intestinal waste and bad cholesterol from the human body. It improves digestion by stimulating the peristaltic movement of the gastrointestinal tract. Dietary fiber, therefore, helps youth stay fit by keeping ailments of the digestive system at bay. Dietary fiber can be cleverly introduced in the menu of your teenager as a green leafy vegetable or cluster bean filling in his/her sandwich. Nuts and fruit, oat bars, or salad vegetables are a healthier snacking option for a hungry adolescent in comparison to potato fries, chocolate bars, etc.
Fruits and Vegetables for Protection from Diseases
Fruits and vegetables are not generally popular with quite a number of children and the trend continues in their adolescence. Therefore, the nutrients of these foods, that are an important part of the body’s army against diseases, are deficient in many young people resulting in bodily weakness, inefficiency and a number of deficiency diseases. Youth should be educated on the importance of fruits and vegetables. They should be made of lip-smacking dishes made of these foods. Fruits and vegetables should be supplied by the government and non-government organizations to youth who cannot afford to buy them.
Emotional Independence for Digestive Health
Adolescence is a period of emotional disturbance for both boys and girls. Often, emotions impact their eating patterns. Given that emotions affect hunger in all individuals, and not only adolescents, care should be taken to ensure that emotions do not rule the food intake. It is important for an adolescent to maintain a calm state of mind while having food. Therefore, matters that excite or worry them emotionally should not be discussed at the dining table.
Games and Activities
Adolescents should be encouraged to cook for fun and play outdoor games. These activities will educate them on the basics of nutrition and improve their fooding habits.