Are you eating right?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Size zero, fad diets and food supplements are some of the terms frequented by most teens today. Teenage is the time one requires more nutrition as the body is subjected to a lot of changes. But are teens aware of this? Snacking on junk, skipping meals and ignoring exercise will not only let you lose your shape, but your health as well.

Nutritionist Ashwini Sukumar, engages in a conversation with Vaishnavi Venkataraman, educating teens on tips to cut down those extra pounds with no crash diets.
Why is a diet important?

Teenage is a period when most of them would want to experiment. Be it clothes or food, teens prefer innovative stuff rather than the traditional ones. Adding to this, a nutritious diet is most essential during teenage.

Can diet have an impact on students’ performance?

Of course yes! Diet plays a vital role in any students’ academics. Children who do not skip their morning breakfast are proved to perform better than those who miss breakfast. Also, a diet that lacks micronutrients will tend to have an impact on the immune system, leading to less immunity.

Youngsters are too focused on losing weight. How healthy is this?

Size zero and staying thin are all mere results of media and peer pressure. There is a lot of misconception as far as diet and fitness are concerned. Teens take the wrong route to cut down their extra flab. Fad diets, weight loss supplements and other such dangerous tricks will only add on to unwanted health issues. These factors also become culprits for abnormal hormonal changes, especially among girls. The best way to stay fit is by exercising on a regular basis. But, unfortunately most of them fail to realize this!

What is the dietary requirement for teens?

Typically teenage is a very crucial period. This is when the body needs more nutrients. An ideal day for any teen should start off with a glass of water in the morning. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and must contain all the vitamins. Fruits and milk are vital. Lunch could be Roti, rice, dhal and salads. The idea that rice must be completely knocked off the plate to stay in shape is a myth. Eating the right quantity can never does harm. Dinner could be Roti and vegetables. Preferably ending the day with a glass of warm milk is the best bet.

Junk food is of course tasty and all of us would love to binge on it. What’s the limit?

Restaurant eating habit starts off an early age. However, this it’s the peak during teenage. The rich pastas and pizzas, steaming hot samosas and chats are the top favourites for any college student. But yes, there is a limit to this too! Junk food is advisable only once a week, that too in a restricted quantity. The best option is to replace junk with a healthy bowl of fruit salad, nuts or a good milk shake.

We have heard of potato diets, liquid diets and many such – Do they work? What are the downsides?

All of the above mentioned food items fall under the category of fad diet. Most of us are under the impression that a diet containing solely fruits or vegetables is the best way to shell out those extra calories. But how long! Our body needs a specific amount of nutrition to generate energy for our daily chores and therefore the metabolism oscillates and switches back to the previous composition. These diets only drink up the water in the body. The fat percentage stays the same. However, if you’re looking at cleansing or detoxifying your system, then you can resort to such diets once a month.

Going to the gym may not be possible during exam time, is there an alternative to make up for it?

The most important aspect of staying fit is exercising. Pricy gyms and fitness centers might suit office goers and others who lead a sedentary lifestyle. If you are a student, then try and make your exercise more fun. Join a class you like. Dance, swimming and aerobics are interesting and lets you stay fit as well. However, if you are obese, you do need more cardio exercise.

What are your top five tricks for a perfect body?

Fall within the ideal body weight.
Ensure you do not have a fat percentage that exceeds 20 – 25 % for women and 12-15 % for men
Wear clothes that suit your skeletal frame work so that you look slim
Indulge at least in one hour of physical activity everyday
Eat a healthy diet. Never starve

What are the nutrients and food groups that are important for teenagers?

Proteins and vitamins are a primary requirement for teenage girls and boys. Carbohydrate intake depends a lot on your daily activities. If your job demands you be on the run the whole day, more carbohydrates will generate the required energy. About 500-600 ml of milk and milk products is a must for calcium requirements.

What is the permitted amount of calorie intake for teens?

Teenage girls can take up to 2,200 calories per day, while boys can go up to 2700. However, the calorie can vary as it largely depends on the individual’s daily schedule, exercise, diet and the body metabolism.


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