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Tips to fuel a hungry teen

If you’re struggling to keep the pantry stocked, the fridge full and your grocery bill within budget, there's a good chance you’re living with teenagers. Keeping time and budget in mind, here are six tips to fuel a hungry teen. 

Adolescence is a time of rapid change – physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. With increased nutritional needs for growth and development, it's no wonder they’re constantly looking for food.

Every teenager is different. Nutritional needs depend on age, growth and level of physical activity. On top of this, eating habits can be influenced by peers, environment and social media*. As teenagers juggle school, sports, socialising and sleep, it’s important they understand the value of healthy eating.

Keeping time and budget in mind, here are six tips to fuel a hungry teen.

1. Make healthy eating work for them

A healthy eating pattern is made up of:

  • Plenty of vegetables and fruit
  • Grainy foods for energy and fibre
  • Some low- or reduced-fat milk products
  • ​High-protein sources like legumes, nuts, seafood, eggs and lean meat

​Encourage your teen to eat a variety of these foods that suit their taste preferences, culture and lifestyle. Beware of fad diets that restrict/eliminate entire food groups or offer a quick-fix to weight loss.

2. Notable nutrients

Iron and calcium are particularly important nutrients for growing bodies. During adolescence, bone strength and density is rapidly increasing. Eating calcium-rich foods (like milk, yoghurt, cheese and tofu) will support the development of a strong skeleton. Teenagers, especially girls, are at high risk of not achieving their daily iron needs. Lean red meat, poultry, seafood, fortified breakfast cereals, legumes and eggs all provide some form of iron.

3. Be a role model and eat together as a family

Values and habits developed during teenage years can influence behaviours in later life. Eat together as a family, be a role model and encourage your teens to help with meal planning, budgeting and cooking. These skills will come in handy when they eventually enter the world of flatting.

4. Make meals go further

It’s surprising how far a meal can stretch with the addition of basic ingredients. Beans, chickpeas, lentils, veges (seasonal or canned), eggs, oats and brown rice are affordable pantry staples. Browse our Tick Shopping Guide to make healthier choices at your next supermarket shop.   

5. Be snack-wise

What adolescents eat can affect their performance both on and off the field. Stock up on snacks that will refuel and satisfy. A fruit smoothie or vegetable sticks with peanut butter or hummus will help fill the gap between school and dinner. Fresh fruit, a handful of nuts or pottle of yoghurt make great on-the-go options.

6. Encourage water and plenty of it

Water is the best choice of drink. Remind your teen to keep hydrated throughout the day, especially during warm weather or when they're physically active. Sports or energy drinks are unnecessary for most young people.

A new year means new goals. Now is the perfect time to talk to your teenager about making healthy lifestyle choices. 

*If you have any concerns or questions about your child or teenager’s eating habits, talk to your GP or a registered dietitian or nutritionist.