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How to Help Your Teen Grow

by Eliza Martinez

Parenting a teenager can be difficult because he faces so many challenges during his teen years. Some teens might have trouble with their growth. While his friends are getting taller and developing muscles, your teen might still look like he's in junior high. Growing requires calories and good nutrition so you don't want to just let your teen go crazy and gorge himself on burgers and fries all the time. A nutritious diet with plenty of exercise should help your teen catch up in no time.

Record your teen's daily meals and snacks in order to keep track of his calorie intake. At the end of the day, add them up. He might eat all the time, but could be low in calories. Teens need a large number of calories to support their growth. Teens need anywhere from 2,100 to 2,750 calories each day, depending on gender and level of physical activity, according to NHS Choices.

Serve a variety of foods from each food group every day. This includes whole grains, lean protein, dairy foods, fruits and vegetables. This ensures that he's getting plenty of the nutrients he needs to grow and develop, including protein and healthy fats.

Limit unhealthy junk foods. This includes fast food, soda, candy, cake, cookies, frozen dinners and packaged snacks. These items are high in calories, but they also contain a large amount of fat, sugar and salt, all of which are unhealthy and contribute to the development of health conditions that include heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Too much soda interferes with bone health, which can alter growth.

Include quality calories in your teen's diet. This way, he's getting enough to grow, but he's getting them from sources that are also high in nutrition. Use canola or olive oil to saute vegetables and meat. Sprinkle shredded cheese on vegetables, baked potatoes or add a slice of cheese to your teen's sandwich. Put sliced avocado in tacos, burritos, salads and sandwiches. Offer nuts or olives for a snack. Make a smoothie instead of drinking juice or milk with meals. Combine the juice or milk with frozen fruit and a bit of honey for a healthy, high-calorie way to aid in growth.

Encourage between-meal snacks but make sure you offer something healthy. Snacks can increase your teen's calorie intake, especially if he doesn't eat a lot at mealtime. Have your teen carry healthy snacks when he goes to school, sports practice or hanging out with friends. Nuts, cheese, crackers with peanut butter, yogurt or a fruit smoothie are all sensible choices.

Serve plenty of protein and calcium. Protein is important for muscle growth and calcium helps bones grow. Good sources of protein include beef, chicken, pork, fish, beans and eggs. Calcium is available from milk, yogurt, cheese and spinach.

Items you will need
  • Nutrition labels
  • Calculator

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

Photo Credits

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