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How Much Should Teens Eat?

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 2 Aug 2019 | comments*Discuss
Teenage Dieting Healthy Foods Eating

Ask a parent of a teenage boy and they will tell you that teens eat a lot. One minute the fridge is fully stocked and the next it is barren. If the teen is a girl, the story may be quite different. Many parents worry about what their teenagers are eating. Are they eating enough? Too much?

Growing Bodies Need Fuel

Teenagers may look almost grown, but their bodies are in a constant state of change. Hormones are raging and growth spurts are common. It takes a good, healthy diet rich in nutrients to properly fuel all of this growth and change. This is not the time to skimp on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Many teenagers worry about their appearance and dieting is common at this age. For most teenagers, however, altering the diet for the purpose of weight gain or loss should be discouraged. Teens need to be encouraged to focus on feeding their bodies for optimal health rather than for matters of appearance.

Cut Out the Junk

While teens often worry about gaining weight, they tend to consume a diet that is high is trans fats and empty calories. Pizza, burgers, chips, sweets, and soft drinks are favoured by teenagers, but these foods tend to provide little or no nutritional benefits. Even worse is that by filling up on these foods, teens often eat very little of the most nutrient dense foods, such as deeply coloured vegetables and fruits. Most people enjoy junk food, but even teens should indulge in these foods only occasionally.

Quality over Quantity

As each teenager is different, so is the amount of food that they need for growth and good health. Many factors come into play when determining a healthy diet. Frame size, gender, activity level, and overall health status must all be considered. More important than the quantity of food eaten is the quality of that food. Teens tend to be hungry frequently and snack often. Unlike adults, most teenagers, especially those that are active, can get away with eating a fairly large quantity of food. Since they are establishing lifelong eating habits, though, they need to pay attention to the types of foods that they choose.

Finding Balance

Most times, teens can tell if they are eating enough (or too much) by taking a look at two things - how they look and how they feel. Although perfectly healthy teenagers will often go through stages of looking a little thin or a little round, their bodies stay somewhere near normal. Either extreme is unhealthy and should be corrected with the help of a doctor or nutritionist.

Sometimes, teens who are not eating properly will feel bad. Fatigue, sluggishness, dizziness, lethargy, and weakness can all result from poor eating habits. The body needs fuel; when it doesn't get what it needs, it will tell you.

Unhealthy Obsession

Sometimes, concern about food and body issues goes too far. Eating disorders are becoming more and more prevalent, and boys are at risk as well as girls. Anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive eating are treatable conditions, but need to be recognised. If you suspect that your teenager is suffering from an eating disorder, please seek help.

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Hi. I'm 17 years old and my height is 5' 3'. My weight is 106 pounds and I want to know is it healthy? My upper body is normal but my lower body especially thighs are too thick. I exercised to have some lean legs but I only got those bulky legs. I eat about 1800 calories a day. How much do I need to eat to slim? I can't also stop eating.
Deb - 2-Aug-19 @ 2:15 PM
I am 15 ( soon 16) years old girl. I dont know how much should I eat (how many calories?) per day. I have depression and i may have eating discover.. i dont exercise almost att all and i stay always home. I dont think that i have to lose weigh but i am scared that if i eat, i gain weigh. I cant enjoy eating anymore like i use to do. I’ve got help so i can speak to someone but that’s not helping if i dont know how much i have to eat to stay thin but still healty..
Help - 8-Jun-18 @ 6:07 PM
@Frederik- if you want your abs to show through and to lose your layer of belly fat, then exercise is the best answer. That way you will tone up too.
MillN - 2-Mar-18 @ 2:00 PM
I'm 14 years old and am going through a fase where I am growing a lot and fast. I am also trying to eat more healthy so I can lose the thin layer of fat on my belly so my abs will show through. I have no idea how much too eat, I obviously want to grow a lot which requires eating but I also want to lose any extra fat. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks
Frederik - 1-Mar-18 @ 9:32 PM
@Walter Mellon - you should always have three meals a day. But, if you don't and a friend is worried there is obviously a reason why your friend is worried. That said you're not underweight - but you still need to eat reguarly!
BeNj - 22-Sep-17 @ 3:41 PM
My friend is worried about my eating habits/weight, so I thought I would ask around to see whether or not he’s right. I’m 16, 5’8”, and I weigh 125 pounds. I skip lunch once or twice a week out of convince. Occasionally I’ll go all day without eating anything besides a protein bar, but that’s not a common occurrence. Is there anything wrong with what I’m doing?
Walter Mellon - 22-Sep-17 @ 4:19 AM
@Grimes - You are currently at the upper end of a healthy weight. Your maximum healthy weight based on a BMI of 25 is 12.4 stones. You should also be eating around 2,500 calories per day. Jan.
JGT - 24-Jul-17 @ 2:57 PM
I'm a 17 year old male, and I weigh 150 pounds. I'm 5'10". I still got some fat on me, and I was wondering how much I should be eating. I eat pretty healthy, and I burn about 1000 calories a day. I just need to know how much I need to be eating. I usually eat between 2000 and 3000 calories, and I drink enough water, but I still feel hungry. Please help?
Grimes - 22-Jul-17 @ 11:57 PM
NARSH - Your Question:
Hi,im 13,a girl, and for some reason, even when I feel kinda full im probably gonna continue eating.Is that OK?

Our Response:
You need to create a balance between not eating enough and eating too much. So when you feel full, it's time to stop. Just enough is the correct amount.
GrowingKids - 11-Apr-16 @ 10:04 AM
hi,im 13,a girl, and for some reason, even when i feel kinda full im probably gonna continue eating.Is that OK?
NARSH - 10-Apr-16 @ 12:29 AM
@MelMel - it sounds like you are doing just the right things to keep you fit and healthy. I have included a link to an NHS page here which should help. It is only a rough guide, you need some fun foods too.
GrowingKids - 4-Feb-15 @ 12:49 PM
Hi, I'm a 15 years old girl. I'm wondering, how can you find out how many calories I should eat per day? And to find out how active I am? For example if you're Sedentary, Lightly active, Moderate active, Very active or Extremely active. So when I have school I speed walk for more than 35 min, after school at home I do strength workout (lower body, upper body, legs, arm, abs) for 30min 4x a week Mon, Tue, Wed, &Fri on Thruday I do cardio for the same amount of time (30 mins) also I'm starting my 2nd semester which I have gym class. Btw I eat VERY healthy.
MelMel - 3-Feb-15 @ 2:05 AM
Hey I am 13 years old and I'm starting to get worried about my weight. I weigh in the 130's. I was just wondering if it is normal for a 13 year old to be that much weight or if I should try to lose it.
nick - 25-May-12 @ 3:11 AM
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