A Diet Plan for Teens

Need a diet plan to help your teen make healthier choices when they eat?

Have your teenagers picked up some bad eating habits and put on a little extra weight during the pandemic?

A Diet Plan for Teens

To get them back on track, in addition to encouraging them to be more active, it might help to teach them some healthy eating habits.

So no, this isn’t about putting your teen on a diet…

It’s about a diet plan that can lead to a lifetime of healthy eating, an active lifestyle, and a healthy weight.

It’s a diet plan that:

  • focuses on eating and drinking a variety of nutrient dense vegetables, fruits, grains (half should be whole grains), dairy products (can include fortified plant based alternatives to cow milk), protein foods, and oils
  • advises we stick within calorie limits and avoid oversized portions
  • limits added sugars (should be less than 10% of calories per day), saturated fat (should be less than 10% of calories per day), and sodium intake (should be less than 2,300mg per day)
  • goes along with an hour of more of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for an hour or more with a mix of aerobic, muscle training, and bone-strengthening activities

Sounds easy, right?

It’s actually not that hard.

A customized MyPlate Plan will help you find your child’s food group targets so that you will both know what and how much your child should eat to stay within their calorie allowance each day.

Sound too easy?

Well, maybe it is… After all, we often already have some idea of what we should and shouldn’t be eating, that we need to be more active, and if we are eating too many things unhealthy things.

The real trick is getting motivated to eat healthier and be more active!

Need some easy things to start your path to a healthier lifestyle?

  • avoid soda, fruit drinks, and other drinks with added sugar and little or no nutrition
  • get more exercise and physical activity than you have been, even if you start with just 15 minutes a day
  • eat smaller snacks and be more mindful of how many calories you are getting from your snacks
  • don’t skip meals
  • eat your meals at the table, avoiding mindless snacking while you are on a screen
  • decrease your screen time if you are frequently on a screen
  • avoid adding high-calorie, high-fat dressings and toppings to all of your food, some of which might have started out fairly healthy
  • eat more meals at home, which has likely gotten easier during the pandemic
  • take supplements if you aren’t confident that you are getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and iron from the foods you are eating each day
  • if you have been gaining too much weight, consider decreasing your portion sizes, as you are almost certainly getting too many calories each day

And then once you are on a healthier path, you can try to follow an age appropriate MyPlate Plan! Or if still need some reinforcement and more tips for healthy eating, read these articles:

And of course, your pediatrician and/or a registered dietician can also be a good source of help for your teen who needs a healthy eating plan.

More on Teen Healthy Eating Plan

Author: Vincent Iannelli, MD

Vincent Iannelli, MD