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