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It is natural for parents to worry about whether their son or daughter is getting the right nutrition. Food scientist Audrey Deane, gives her advice and tips on the best ways to keep your teenager in good health.
Some children will eat everything you put in front of them while others will be more selective; but variety, respect and preparation is crucial for promoting healthy eating habits at an early age.
"A wide and varied diet is essential for your child when they are growing," advises Audrey. "It's always good to try different foods but if they don't like it, never force them to eat it. Try not to make a big deal about them refusing to eat something as this becomes a battle ground for control.
"Try not to impose your own choice on your children either. Just because you like it, doesn't mean they will too."
As a child's growth rate accelerates they will need to eat more to keep up with the intake of energy they require. "It is important you try and plan for hunger. Be prepared and keep nutritious snacks such as bananas or malt loaf in your bag," advises Audrey.
"We can all think of an example of a food we particularly hated growing up," says Audrey. "We tend to remember the bad experiences and this can have a negative impact on how we approach food in the future.
"Tastes and textures change and vary through age so it's important to retry foods with your child. Fortunately, just because they didn't like it once, doesn't mean they won't like it again."
Adolescence is a time when the body goes through some dramatic changes, both physically and emotionally, and this needs to be partnered with the correct nutrition.
"We go through our main growth spurt in our teenage years, especially boys, and appetites can become particularly large," explains Audrey. "There can be a lot of panic from a parent's point of view about what you are going to feed them."
Large amounts of B vitamins are needed during the teens. B vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, are essential for energy production and can be found in eggs, whole grains and Marmite.
Calcium and vitamin D should also be high on the list for teenagers as they help strengthen bones, which are under increased pressure as children grow. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are great sources of calcium.
Iron is another important mineral throughout teenage years. For girls it is important as they lose iron in blood during menstruation and for boys the increase in muscle mass and a greater blood volume means their bodies require a larger intake.
Dietary choices are one way a teenager can show their independence. If they have a job, they may have more money to spend on food, or they may eat out more frequently with friends, meaning they can choose whatever food they want.
"Body consciousness is a landmine that wreaks havoc with food choices for teenagers," says Audrey. "If you have a son or daughter set on restricting their calories, just remember low-fat versions of dairy products have just as much calcium as the full fat versions, but typically contain more sugar."
Encourage them to eat fruits and vegetables, especially dark greens as these are low in calories and will provide them with important vitamins and minerals.
Breakfast: Cereal or toast, a smoothie if you are on-the-go.
Lunch: Jacket potato and baked beans, which count as one of your five a day.
Evening meal: Mexican foods, such as chilli or tacos, are great to get teenagers involved in meal-planning and preparation.
Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible, supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.