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Calling All Teens: Let's get some pep in your step!

February 22, 2012

Dear teenager,

I want to tell you a little about what I wish I knew at your age.  When I was growing up, I never wondered “what was going to happen to me when I got older?” I never knew that my daily choices would impact my health for the future. I was active in school sports, and I thought that if I just stayed in shape I would be healthy. At that time in my life, health was only skin deep. No doubt fitness and maintaining your healthy weight is part of the equation, but eating good-for-you foods matters.

Why eating healthfully NOW is important…

It keeps things movin’

Yeah, I’m talking about it...that stopped up feeling you get in your stomach. Lots of teens tell me they have this issue. What will help? Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water, and physical activity. Fiber in foods provides bulk, and it moves things along through the system. Water keeps it flowing smoothly, and activity speeds things along their way.

To protect your heart

Chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, are not just problems that happen when you get old. In fact, these diseases begin in childhood; doctors are finding that many of these diseases are starting to develop in young kids. Eating whole foods (those not found in a package) helps to prevent these diseases.

Healthy portions

Get your plate in shape by making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, one fourth whole grains, and one fourth protein (or meat) foods. Not only does this help to provide your body with adequate nutrients, it keeps everything in the proper balance so that you can stay at your healthy weight.

For strong bones

Right now your bones are growing at a fast rate and storing up for the future. Once you hit age 25, growth slows, and you are stuck with trying to maintain what you’ve stored up in the teenage years. Ever heard of osteoporosis? It’s what happens when the bones get weak; they can break easily. Lots of people suffer from this, especially women, and even some teens! It is essential to have a side of milk, yogurt, or cheese with each meal to meet your calcium needs.

To excel in sports and school

If your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs it will compromise performance. This is why having breakfast, lunch, dinner, healthy snacks, and enough water are so important. Our brain and muscles need healthy fuel to perform at its best.

What you do now makes a difference in your health. Begin slowly, but start to incorporate healthy foods. Just grab that piece of fruit at lunch next time. It does the body good.

How do you incorporate healthy foods into your day?