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Healthy Food For Teenagers

Nuala Mcbride


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Healthy Food For Teenagers

Dad & daughter filling up water at kitchen sink

We probably all remember our teenage years. The taste of freedom, with the excitement our whole lives ahead of us. One of the things that we probably don’t remember though is what we ate, but this actually has such a big impact on our future selves. 

Adolescence is a time of rapid growth, learning and development which is all fuelled by the food one eats. For our teenagers, often the biggest challenge is learning to make adequate food choices and maintain healthy eating habits. 

Many of these habits and patterns around food are learnt or adopted from their parents, so it’s important that as parents you’re leading by example. 


If you take anything away from this article, these are my five tips to ensure you’re keeping your teenager healthy

  1. Limit the intake of saturated fats, added salt and added sugar
  2. Avoid sugary drinks
  3. Eat a wide variety of foods (see the rainbow food chart)
  4. Encourage your teenager to be physically active 
  5. Drink enough water


Case Study – A Vegetarian Daughter 

One parent I worked with had a daughter who wanted to be a vegetarian and it was causing some challenging meal times. I worked with the parents initially to understand their challenges and then with the daughter to understand her likes and dislikes. 

My first step was to identify what nutrients the teenager could potentially have deficiencies in by adopting this diet. This gave me the foundations for creating my bespoke package. 


The top nutrients to consider for a vegetarian teenager: 

  • A key nutrient to watch out for a deficiency in a teenager who is vegetarian is Vitamin B. Therefore, it is important to focus on fortified foods or supplements.
  • Iron is another nutrient to be weary of due to the bioavailability being lower in vegetarian foods compared to meat. 
  • Zinc is another concern, especially due to the high phytate content of vegetarian diets (e.g. legumes, nuts, whole-grains). 
  • The final concern is adequate protein intakes, especially if the teenager is active. 


This gave me a good basis to come up with some strategies for constructing their meals. I devised some fun ‘build your own’ meal sheets to help the family. This guided them on the proper nutrients for the vegetarian teenager and showed them new types of vegetarian food whilst also showing how they could swap in meat options. 


Recipe Inspo
Vegetarian Stir Fry Recipe Ideas

If you’d like to know more, drop me an email at info@thenutritiousway.net. Or check out my pre-made meals plans here or even bespoke meal plans for teenagers here



1. How can teenagers balance nutrition with busy schedules and limited cooking skills?

Teenagers facing hectic schedules and limited cooking skills can still prioritise nutrition by opting for quick, healthy meal options such as whole grain sandwiches, and yogurt with fruit, nuts. Additionally, learning simple cooking techniques and meal prepping can help save time and ensure nutritious choices throughout the week.


2. Are there resources available for parents who need guidance on navigating their teenagers’ dietary preferences and restrictions?

Yes, several resources are available for parents seeking guidance on navigating their teenagers’ dietary preferences and restrictions. Online platforms, books, and community groups often provide valuable insights and support. Additionally, consulting with a registered nutritionist can offer personalised advice and meal planning strategies tailored to individual needs.


3. How can families foster positive eating habits and a healthy relationship with food beyond meal planning?

In addition to meal planning and nutrition education, families can foster positive eating habits and a healthy relationship with food by creating a supportive mealtime environment, practicing mindful eating, involving teenagers in grocery shopping and meal preparation, and promoting positive body image and self-esteem. Open communication, flexibility, and mutual respect are essential for building lifelong healthy habits around food.




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Hi! I'm Nuala

Thanks for taking a look at my blog! It’s where I write about all my favourite topics in Nutrition.
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