General Nutrition

Nutrition & Adolescents
Nutrition during puberty (ages 13-19) should be based on a nutrient-dense meal plan according to the Food Guide Pyramid. Eating patterns in adolescents are influenced by:

  • Independence from parent's food choices
  • Hectic schedules
  • Search for self-identification
  • Peer acceptance
  • Dissatisfaction with body image

The following list specifics food choices in this age group:

  • Increased tendency to skip meals
  • Eating more meals outside of the home
  • Frequent snacking
  • Increased consumption of competitive foods and convenience foods
  • Dieting
  • Vegetarian diets
  • Fad diets
  • Frequent schedule changes due to after-school activities

Some of the issues related to food intake that are seen during puberty are:

  • Increased rates of eating disorders (Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia)
  • Increased rates of obesity for a variety of reasons
  • Decreased calcium consumptions due to soda, juice, water and sport's beverage consumption. The RDI for calcium is 1,300mg/day for both sexes
  • Minerals that are increased during adolescents include iron and zinc. Iron deficiency can be a problem for girls due to menses, and zinc is needed for growth and sexual development. The RDI for iron is 12mg/day for girls and 15mg/day for boys.
  • Fiber intake is important for normal bowel functioning; however, there is no RDI. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends .5g/per KG of body weight and not to exceed 35g/day.

The table below lists snack choices that are less processed and more nutrient-dense for quick consumption.

Food Group Choose Limit
Fruit • Fresh fruit
• Dried fruit
• Fruit smoothies
• Canned fruit in lite syrup
• Fruit chews
• Fruit juices or punches
• Fruit in heavy syrup
• Candied fruit
Vegetables • Fresh vegetables
• Frozen vegetables
• Vegetable soups
• Vegetable juices
• Fried Vegetables
• Canned Vegetables
• Instant potatoes
Grains • Stove popcorn
• Pretzels
• Cereal with 5g fiber
  or more per serving
• Rice
• Pasta
• Grain bread
• Saltines
• Graham crackers
• Rice crackers
• Microwave popcorn
• Cereal with less than
  5g fiber per serving
• Chips
• Cookies
• Cakes
• Pies
• Trans-fat crackers
Milk • Skim or 1% milk
• Yogurt
• Lite cheese
• Cottage cheese
• Pudding
• Milkshakes
• Whole milk
• 2% milk
• Ice cream
• Full fat cheese
Meat & Beans • Lean deli meats
(Roast beef, ham, turkey)
• Hummus
• Bean salad
• Eggs
• Nuts
• Soy products
• Bean soups
• High-fat deli meat
(salami, pepperoni, liverwurst, etc)
• Sausage
• Bacon
Fat • Nut butters
• Nuts
• Avocado
• Olives
• Unsaturated oils and dressings
• Butter
• Stick margarines
• Lard
• Creamy salad dressings
Edy McClure MS, RD, CDE, CD-N
94 Fox Run Drive
Southbury, CT 06488

P. 203-267-4090
F. 203-267-4057
Email Edy McClure