Developing a positive view toward nutrition and exercise during adolescence will set the scene for later in life. In other words, the earlier a person develops healthy eating patterns, the better. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and a good time to start making better eating patterns a daily habit.
Here are some helpful hints for how to maintain a healthy diet during adolescence.
1. Watch out for diets
Diets encourage people to maintain temporary eating patterns and, therefore, temporary results. For a teen interested in losing weight, it’s better to follow new eating habits – not a new diet. This requires small, but substantial changes in everyday dietary choices – for instance, choosing to drink water rather than soda. Crash diets or abrupt, severe reduction of calories can be dangerous, especially for teens. Teens are at a high risk for nutritional deficiencies and need to maintain an acceptable caloric intake for skeletal and muscular development.
For individuals who choose to follow a diet regardless, make sure to take a good multivitamin as well as calcium to reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies.
2. Exercise regularly
Performing regular physical exercise burns calories and builds muscles. This exercise doesn’t have to be accomplished at the gym – in fact, when people force themselves to go to the gym despite not enjoying it, they can develop a serious hatred for it in the future. Some examples of physical activities include walking the dog, walking to school, cycling to school and playing sports. Even wandering around the block once a day can have a serious, positive effect on long-term health.
Weight training is another way to increase physical activity – however, people who lift weights must learn how to maintain proper form to avoid causing pain or serious injuries. Do not attempt to lift weights without some initial instruction.
3. Reduce screen time
Most people spend a little too much time in front of the television, the computer or their phones. A simple way to promote physical well-being is to reduce this screen time to less than two hours a day. Instead of watching television with a friend, go for a walk. Instead of texting a friend, spend some time together wandering around a shopping mall.
4. Don’t eliminate carbohydrates
Carbohydrate-rich foods provide a tremendous amount of nutrition to the growing body, and eliminating them entirely can cause severe nutritional deficiencies.
Although cutting out carbohydrates is an appealing way to lose weight, it’s better to stick to a more balanced approach. For instance, instead of snacking on carbohydrate-filled potato chips, try a piece of fruit. Instead of eating a large portion of pasta, fill up some of the plate with green beans or carrots. Fruits and vegetables not only contain valuable levels of vitamins and minerals – they’re also packed with fiber, which helps fill you up.
The key to maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about cutting calories – it’s about replacing unhealthy food with healthy food and choosing exercise over inactivity. Moderation, however, is essential. People shouldn’t force themselves to exercise if they’re exhausted, and no one should aim for starvation. Individuals with body image issues or any other signs of unhealthy eating behaviors should seek help immediately, as these devastating diseases can result in severe health issues or even death.
White River Academy is an alternative school for troubled boys that focuses on helping students achieve permanent, healthy lifestyle changes. Our staff provides teens with up-to-date treatment options with an emphasis on personal responsibility and behavioral wellness. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.