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Teenagers: Take Charge of Your Health!

Teens, now is your time to make your health a priority! The diet and lifestyle choices you make now can have a significant impact on your future health. That is because habits formed early in life may stick with you throughout adulthood and are often predictors of your health status later in life. With that being said, click on the links below and learn how to take charge of your health!

Healthy Eating Plan

With your hectic school and after-school activities, you may not always find yourself eating healthfully. Eating healthfully means getting the right balance of nutrients your body needs to perform every day. All teens may not have the same healthy eating plan. That is because all teens require different calorie needs based on their gender, body size, growth rate, and activity level.

Age Guys
11-13 1,800 - 2,600 1,800 - 2,200
14-18 2,200 - 3,200 1,800 - 2,400
Those involved in strenuous physical activity, such as soccer, basketball, football or other sports may need up to 3,500+ calories daily.

MyPlate Daily Checklist (choosemyplate.gov)

SuperTracker: Plan, analyze, and track your food and physical activity (choosemyplate.gov)

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Start Your Day with Breakfast

Did you know that eating breakfast can help you do better in school? By eating breakfast you can increase your attention span and memory, have more energy, and feel less irritable and restless.

Make Breakfast Fun!

Sometimes we can get bored with cereal and milk every morning. Here are some fun ideas for a quick, easy and healthy breakfast!

  • Try dried cereal with low fat flavored yogurt instead of milk
  • Warm up frozen berries in the microwave to make a berry sauce for whole wheat waffles instead of syrup
  • Use whole wheat English muffins to make a homemade Egg McMuffin
  • Try mixing ½ a tablespoon of peanut butter into oatmeal for a new flavor
  • Stuff scrambled eggs, salsa, and reduced fat cheddar cheese in a whole wheat or corn tortilla for a quick breakfast wrap
  • Spread peanut butter on a whole wheat English muffin
  • Cover a banana in yogurt and then roll in granola
  • Create a do‐it‐yourself breakfast by spreading low fat yogurt on pita bread and add your favorite toppings
  • Blend frozen fruit with low fat milk for a morning fruit smoothie
  • Stuff a pita pocket with apple slices and ricotta cheese ‐ you can add a dash of cinnamon for extra flavor

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Granola Bars 101

Granola Bar Calories Sugar Fiber
Chewy Chocolate Chip 100 7g 1g
Chewy Chocolate Chip (25% less sugar) 100 5g 1g
Fiber One Chocolate Chip 140 10g 9g
Fiber One Chocolate Chip (90 calorie) 90 5g 5g
Kudos Chocolate Chip Granola Bar 120 11g 1g
Special K Chocolaty Chip Cookie 90 8g 3g
Special K Strawberry 90 8g 3g
Nutrigrain Bar (Mixed Berry) 120 11g 3g
Kashi Cherry Dark Chocolate 120 8g 4g
Kashi GoLean Crunchy! (Chocolate / Almond) 170 13g 5g
Nature Valley Oats n’ Honey 180 12g 2g
Nature Valley Chocolate / Nut Trail Mix 140 14g 1g
Nature Valley Vanilla Yogurt 140 14g 1g
Nature Valley Sweet n’ Salty (Almond) 160 12g 2g
Nature Valley Nut Crunch (Peanut) 190 6g 2g
Nature Valley Granola Thins 80 6g <1g
= Top Healthy Picks

Nutrition Information Based on Serving Size Listed on Product Packaging

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Sweetened Beverages and Choosing Drinks Wisely

Pop and other high-sugar beverages have become the beverages of choice for teens and adults alike. Yet these beverages are actually more like desserts because they are high in added sugar and calories. In fact, soda and sugar-filled drinks may cause weight gain in kids and teens. To avoid the weight gain, choose water, 100% fruit juice, low-fat milk, or fat-free milk. These smart beverage options have no-added sugar, fewer calories, and are packed with vital nutrients. For more information on choosing beverages wisely, click on the link below!

Sweetened Drinks

All sweetened beverages (like soda pop and fruit drinks) have added sugar. For example, there are 10 teaspoons of sugar in one 12-oz can of soda. Sugar is high in calories, but it has hardly any nutrients. Drinking too many sugary beverages provides extra calories, which may lead to weight gain and potentially other health problems.

The charts below list the added sugar and calories in some common beverages.

Sweetened Beverages
Added Sugar
Added Sugar
Can of soda (12 oz) 145 40 10
Small soft drink (16 oz) 215 53 13.25
Medium soft drink (22 oz) 295 73 18.25
Large soft drink (32 oz) 430 105 26.25
10% Juice drink box (6.75 oz) 100 23 5.75
Lemonade (20 oz) 205 55 13.75
Sweetened iced tea (20 oz) 220 50 12.5
Chocolate low-fat milk (8 oz) 155 16 4
Gatorade (20 oz) 125 32 8
Gatorade G2 (20 oz) 70 17 4.25
Vitamin Water (20 oz) 125 32.5 8
Red Bull (8.3 oz) 110 28 7
Kool-Aid, all flavors (8 oz) 60 16 4
Hot Chocolate, whole milk (8 oz) 180 26 6.5
Hot Chocolate, skim milk (8 oz) 140 17 4.25

Beverages without Added Sugar
Water 0
Fat-free milk (8 oz) 75
Low-fat milk (8 oz) 110
100% fruit juice box (6.75 oz) 90
Crystal Light, all flavors (8 oz) 5
Can of diet soda (12 oz) 0
Vitamin Water Zero (20 oz) 0

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Sports Nutrition for the Teenage Athlete

Eating right is important in building your muscles to perform at your best. Consuming enough calories throughout the day can help to you be stronger and faster.


Along with carbohydrates, protein and fat, vitamins and minerals are equally important for optimal performance. Eating a balanced diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables will provide all vitamins and minerals needed for sports performance.

Calcium: helps to build stronger bones

Foods that contain calcium:

  • Low fat milk
  • Low fat yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Dark green vegetables (spinach and broccoli)

Iron: carries oxygen to the muscles

Foods that contain iron:

  • Red meat (choose red meat with less fat)
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Iron-fortified cereals

Should I take protein supplements?

Though many teen athletes have higher protein requirements than less-active teenagers, many athletes meet their protein requirements through healthy eating habits alone.

Muscle growth happens with regular training but too much protein can cause dehydration and calcium loss.

What types of foods are good sources of protein?

  • Fish, Lean Meats and Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy Products such as Milk and Yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Peanut Butter

Water is just as important in performance as food!  Everyone sweats when they exercise, which can cause you to become overheated and tired if you are not properly hydrated. Drink water before and after exercise, as well as every 15-20 minutes during.

  • Water is the best fluid to drink when exercising.
  • Sports drinks such as Gatorade/Powerade are meant to be drunk when exercising for more than 60-90 minutes or in hot weather. They provide you with the electrolytes and carbohydrates needed in prolonged exercise.
  • Gatorade and other sports drinks should be consumed in moderation.
Eating Before the Big Game

Making a habit of a healthy, balanced diet is important for performance because your body uses the foods you’ve eaten over the past few days as fuel for the game. Eating the right foods before your game can help to boost your performance. This includes eating a meal rich in carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fat.

Choose a protein and carbohydrate meal 2-4 hours before the game or event, such as:

  • Turkey or chicken sandwich
  • Cereal with milk
  • Pasta with tomato sauce

Eat a light snack less than 2 hours before the game or event. This is especially important if you did not have time for a meal.

  • Low-fiber fruits or vegetables such as plums, melons, carrots
  • Crackers
  • Bagel
  • Low-fat yogurt
Eating after the game

Eating after the game is important to replenish your energy and help with muscle recovery.

  • Immediately after the game, consume a piece of fruit such as an orange
  • Within 2 hours after the game, consume a balanced meal that includes moderate amounts of protein and carbohydrate, and lower fat. Including all food groups will help you to get all vitamins and minerals you need.

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Healthy Vegetarians

Vegetarian diets are becoming more and more common. If you are or are thinking about becoming a vegetarian, there are many things you should know in order to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

There are typically 4 different kinds of vegetarians:

  • Strict Vegetarian or Vegan: A vegetarian diet that excludes all animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and other dairy products.
  • Lactovegetarian: A vegetarian diet that excludes meat, poultry, fish and eggs but includes dairy products
  • Lacto-ovovegetarian: A vegetarian diet that excludes meat, poultry and fish but includes eggs and dairy products. Most vegetarians in the United States fall into this category.
  • Flexitarian: A semi-vegetarian diet with a focal point on vegetarian food with occasional meat consumption.

Vegetarian Eating for Athletes (source: scandpg.org)

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