A Nurse's Guide to Nutrition for Teens

The Food Pyramid/Healthy Eating Plate

The Importance of Vitamins and Nutrients
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients and by eating a variety of different foods helps to make sure that your body has everything it needs to work properly and healthfully. Building strong bones, healing from injury, and supplementing your immune system are all things that require proper nutrition. The most important nutrients are designed to support vital body function by breaking down through the digestive system and then to be used as energy. There are more than forty nutrients in food and they can be broken down into six categories: carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and water. Carbohydrates are used as a main source of energy, whereas protein provides amino acids and helps to build and repair the body. Fats provide energy, as well as insulation. Vitamins are a group of nutrients, each offering very specific benefits and support to the body. Mineral assist in proper function and water, maybe the most crucial, is involved in every process and function, carrying nutrients to the cells and flushing waste from the body.

Diets and Calorie Counting
Dieting and counting one’s caloric intake are common practices, sometimes alarmingly so. It’s important to understand that what you choose to put in your body matters; it will impact your immediate and long-term health, so it’s important to take an interest in healthy eating habits. Holistic approaches to food are important; it’s less about the number of calories one eats and more about the macro and micronutrients they are putting into their body. Being mindful of caloric intake can be helpful, but making consistently healthy choices is more valuable than counting calories alone. Choose a variety of wholesome foods that offer value to your body. Working within a 2000 calorie diet and the food pyramid may be most helpful.

Exercise is Key to a Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies are designed to move and burn excess calories and energy. If you choose not to exercise and intake more than the daily 2000 calorie diet and neglect to give your body the proper nutrients, it will begin to break down or deteriorate. To avoid a sedentary or unhealthy lifestyle, everyone is encouraged to get a minimum of one hour of daily exercise. Exercise can mean many different things; it could mean going to a gym, playing a sport on a team or by yourself. It could also mean doing strenuous activities or chores. To make the most of your needed exercise, trying different things and find something that you enjoy doing that just happens to be good for you. Exercise can be fun!