How does your diet rate?


Four typical diets of teenagers are found to be lacking in nutritional value. Recommendations include cutting down on sugar, starches and fats, adding fruits and vegetables and eating three meals a day. A nutritional analysis of each diet and recommended daily allowances are given.

Full Text:

You’ve heard about it in school and you’ve read about it in Current Health 2. But when it comes to good nutrition, do you really practice what the experts preach? We decided to find out. We asked a group of students just like you to write down everything they ate for one day. We asked them to eat as they normally do, to be as exact as possible, and to be honest!

After sifting through piles of diet records, we picked the four that best represented the typical teen diets. We analyzed them with a computer software program and came up with some surprising results. Does your diet resemble any of these?

1 Georgia’s Diet: Even Twiggy Ate More

Breakfast               1 glass milk
Lunch                   1 can diet pop
                        sugarless gum

Snack                   2 slices bread
Dinner                  tuna salad

Snack                   1 can pop
Calories       722      Sodium           602 mg
Carbohydrate   122 gm   Vit A            2120 IU
Protein        25 gm    Vit C            21 mg
Fat            14 gm    Vit D            80 IU
Sugar          93 gm    Calcium          424 mg
Fiber          4 gm     Iron             4 mg
Cholesterol    41 mg


Even Twiggy, the bone-thin supermodel of the ’70s, probably ate more than 722 calories. This teen’s diet is low in everything–except sodium (salt) and sugar.


Eat. A low-calorie diet such as this one can lead to some serious nutritional problems, such as anemia (now) and osteoporosis (later in life). Georgia needs to boost her calories with nutrient-dense foods. Here are some eating-on-the-run ideas for Georgia:



* Drink a glass of fruit juice while getting dressed.

* Grab a bagel and eat it on the way to school.

* Tuck a low-fat granola bar in a school bag for later.


* Substitute 100 percent fruit juice and a glass of milk for the pop.

* Eat a sandwich, soup and crackers, baked potato with low-fat toppings, or 2 slices of veggie pizza.


* Eat some crackers, bread sticks, or bread with the tuna salad.

Snack Ideas

* Lite popcorn

* Snack-sized bag of pretzels

* Cinnamon raisin bagel

* Fig bars, graham crackers, or ginger snaps

* A frozen 100 percent fruit juice popsicle

* Frozen strawberries or grapes

* Low-fat frozen yogurt

* An apple

2 Mike’s Diet:…One Six-pack to Go

Breakfast               none
Snack                   2 cans pop
Lunch                   cheese fries

Snack                   3 cans pop
Dinner                  none
Snack                   potato chips
                        1 can pop

Calories       1749     Sodium         1111 mg
Carbohydrate   301 gm   Vit A          1265 IU
Protein        22 gm    Vit C          35 mg
Fat            49 gm    Vit D          80 IU
Sugar          242 gm   Calcium        568 mg
Fiber          0.8 gm   Iron           2 mg
Cholesterol    54 mg


…one six-pack of soda pop, that is. This teen consumed almost 1,000 calories of sugar in a can. Sugar is considered a source of “empty calories” because it contains few nutrients. And, unless Mike brushes after every can of pop, the sugar increases his risk for cavities.


Substitute 100 percent fruit juice for the pop. Or, drink bottled water flavored with fruit juice. Either way, the 1,000 plus calories can be better “spent” by choosing more nutrient-dense foods at mealtimes. Start by adding more fruits and vegetables at meals and snack times, and be sure to have at least three meals per day, even if you’re on the run.

Recommended Daily Allowances [RDAs]

                For Males   For Females   For Males    For Females

               Ages 11-14    Ages 11-14   Ages 15-18    Ages 15-18

Calories         2500           2200        3000          2200
Carbohydrate    313 gm         275 gm      375 gm        275 gm
Protein          45 gm          46 gm       59 gm         44 gm
Fat(+)           83 gm          73 gm      100 gm         73 gm
Sugar(+)(*)      60 gm          48 gm       72 gm         48 gm
Fiber            25 gm          22 gm       30 gm         22 gm
Cholesterol(+)  300 mg         300 mg      300 mg        300 mg
Sodium          500 mg         500 mg      500 mg        500 mg
Vit A           5000 IU        4000 IU     5000 IU       4000 IU
Vit C            50 mg          50 mg       60 mg         60 mg
Vit D            400 IU         400 IU      400 IU        400 IU
Calcium        1200 mg        1200 mg     1200 mg       1200 mg
Iron            12 mg          15 mg       12 mg         15 mg


(*)4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon

Sources: National Academy of Science and U.S. Department of Agriculture

3 Keith’s Diet: Fried in the Fast Lane

Breakfast               None
Lunch                   fast-food cheeseburger
                        chicken sandwich

                        large order of fries

                        medium pop

Snack                   cucumber slices
Dinner                  fast-food cheeseburgers (2)
                        large order of fries

                        large pop

Snack                   medium dipped ice-cream
                         cones (2)

Calories       3135     Sodium    3728 mg
Carbohydrate   379 gm   Vit A     2705 IU
Protein        95 gm    Vit C     46 mg
Fat            141 gm   Vit D     12 IU
Sugar          110 gm   Calcium   1074 mg
Fiber          1 gm     Iron      10 mg
Cholesterol    326 mg


“Fried” is what Keith’s arteries will look like if he continues with this kind of diet. Despite the high calorie count, this teen’s diet is still low in fiber, vitamins, and iron.


Cut the fat and cholesterol. Even though Keith is still in his teens, his body already can be collecting plaque along his arterial walls–the beginnings of heart disease. The extra fat in his diet also can set him up for a weight problem in his adult years. The next time Keith has a craving for fast food, here are some healthier alternatives:

* A 90-percent-lean hamburger with BBQ or picante sauce, instead of cheese, bacon, or creamy sauces

* Plain roast beef sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions

* Grilled chicken sandwich minus the creamy sauce

* Chicken-filled soft tacos

* Single cheese pizza topped with vegetables

* Baked potato topped with BBQ sauce or chili

* Corn-on-the-cob

* Low-fat frozen yogurt

* Fresh fruit

4 Stephanie’s Diet: Extra Starch, Please

Breakfast               none
Lunch                   pizza
                        candy bar

Snack                   sandwich
Dinner                  hot dog on a bun
                        macaroni and cheese

Calories       1173     Sodium    2650 mg
Carbohydrate   109 gm   Vit A     1525 IU
Protein        53 gm    Vit C     20 mg
Fat            58 gm    Vit D     24 IU
Sugar          15 gm    Calcium   555 mg
Fiber          7 gm     Iron      6 mg
Cholesterol    129 mg


Extra starch is great for a laundry–not for a teen. The lack of fruits and vegetables is reflected in Stephanie’s low levels of vitamins A and C and fiber.


Vitamins A and C are antioxidants, the new superheroes of nutrition. They help neutralize dangerous free radical molecules and help guard against cancer and heart disease. A high-fiber diet is also recognized by health professionals as a way to reduce certain kinds of cancers. To boost Stephanie’s intake of vitamins and fiber, she should try these suggestions:



* Drink a glass of 100 percent fruit juice.

* Eat a bowl of cereal with milk.


* Add vegetables to the pizza.

* Have a salad with the pizza.

* Drink 100 percent fruit juice.

* Choose a frozen 100 percent fruit juice popsicle for dessert.


* Add vegetable soup or a salad to the meal.

* Add a package of mixed vegetables to the macaroni and cheese.

* Top hot dogs with sauerkraut, onions, and tomatoes.

* Finish the meal with frozen strawberries or grapes.

For More Information

American Heart Association 7272 Greenville Ave.

Dallas, TX 75231-4599

Booklet: “Nutrition Nibbles: A Guide to Healthy Snacking” (write Box No. H-NN on envelope); single copy free with self-addressed, stamped #10 business-size envelope.

Consumer Information Center Dept. 119A

Pueblo, CO 81009

Booklet: “The Food Guide Pyramid”; single copy $1; make check payable to Superintendent of Documents.

Michigan State University Bulletin Office – Rm. 10B

Agriculture Hall

East Lansing, MI 48824-1039 Pamphlet: “Enjoy Fruits”; single copy free; request No. PA 1385.

>>> Click here: Great grains: eating whole-grain foods can help turbocharge your energy level

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