What Is A Healthy Lunch For A Teenage Girl

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What is a healthy lunch for a teenage girl? Lunchtime is probably the most overlooked meal of the day. Instead, teens are making unhealthy choices for lunch, like fatty fast food and sugary snacks, which could lead to serious health problems.

Lunch can be a struggle for teenage girl. School lunches never have enough food and packed lunches can be unhealthy. Here are  easy healthy lunch recipes for teenage girls to take to school.

What Is A Healthy Lunch For A Teenage Girl

What Should a Teenage Girl Eat in a Day? Recommendations From a Dietitian

Teenage girls are growing, learning, developing, changing so much and becoming more independent and responsible. Teen females need a lot of nutrients and energy, especially during pubertygrowth spurts, and for physical activity and teen athletes. It would be unwise to fuel their bodies with unhealthy choices like sugary soda, chips, pizza, and snack foods. Nutritious foods can be just as delicious, easy, and a lot more energizing.

Teenage girls should focus their food choices on evenly spaced meals and snacks during the day, and develop healthy habits. Teen females should eat on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, meat and beans, and lowfat dairy products each day, and limit processed and packaged snack foods and fast foods.

Need some more tips and ideas for what to eat and how much? Get the best tips from a registered dietitian nutritionist. Keep reading below and also check out my list of The 10 Best and 10 Worst Foods for Teenagers to Eat.

What Does a Teenage Girl Need in Her Diet?

The best way to make sure a teen girl is getting all the nutrients and the right foods she needs in her diet is to focus on variety and balance between all the different food groups. Each food group provides different vitamins and minerals that are important for normal growth and function. Here’s an example of how much and what to eat from each food group:

  • Dairy– Eat 3 servings per day. One serving equals 1 cup of milk/yogurt, 1/3 cup shredded cheese, 1 1/2 ounces hard cheese, or 2 cups cottage cheese etc.
  • Grains– Eat 6 servings per day. One serving equals 1 slice bread, 1/2 cup cooked grains (oatmeal, rice, pasta), 5-7 crackers, 3 cups popcorn, or 1 cup breakfast cereal. Choose mostly whole wheat grains instead of white.
  • Fruits– Eat 1 1/2 cups per day. 1 medium fruit is equal to about 1 cup. 1/2 cup of dried fruit and 1 cup 100% juice are also equal to a 1 cup serving.
  • Vegetables– Eat 2 1/2 cups per day. 1 cup of whole, sliced, etc. 2 cups of lettuce/leafy greens or 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables is equal to a 1 cup serving size.
  • Protein Foods – Eat about 5-6 servings per day. A serving is 1 ounce of cooked meat/poultry/seafood/lunchmeat, 1 egg, 1/2 ounce of nuts/seeds, 1 Tablespoon nut butter, 1/4 cup cooked beans/lentils/tofu, or 2 Tablespoons of hummus.

Focusing meals on vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and whole grains is a great way to stay healthy and get a balance of food for a healthy body.

How Much Should A Teenage Girl Eat in a Day?

Teenage females should eat enough in the day to fuel their body for all their daily activities including thinking, moving, breathing, chores, focusing in school, sports practice, walking to class, even growing, etc.

There’s a lot going on and adolescent girls need a lot of calories to supply the right amount of energy each day. Most moderately active teenage girls need around 2,000 calories per day of food to provide the right amount of fuel for their body functions, growth, and movement.

1. Stir-fries

Bowl of stir-fried noodles with prawns and vegetables

When encouraging your teen to cook, the best approach can be to help them organise the ingredients they need – and then take a step back. You can always be on hand if they need it, but helicopter parenting will almost certainly not be welcome in a hot kitchen.

The humble stir-fry is a great starting point for the beginner cook, because it has few instructions, it’s speedy, simple and you can pack them full of fresh veg. From pineapple, beef & ginger to simple vegetable & prawn noodles, these recipes make the perfect springboard for cooking balanced meals, independently.

2. Pizza

Pizza slices topped with tomato sauce, cheese and basil leaves

Let your teen channel some Neapolitan vibes by making their own pizza from scratch. Although this may sound daunting for younger teens, it only takes a handful of simple ingredients to make the homemade tomato sauce and bread base. Otherwise, if you’re short of time, just use a shop-bought pizza base that they can layer on their favourite ingredients. After they see how easy it is, you may start to get requests for a bespoke stone pizza oven!

3. Curry

Thai green curry with beans and rice in a bowl

Making a curry is all about the art of balancing a large array of flavours and textures to create a full bodied, fragrant dish rather than a clashing calamity. It’s always best to start with the basics, so teens can experiment to taste and add extras as they go along. Our vegan Thai curry uses tofu cubes and plenty of veg to provide bulk, while curry paste, lime and coriander provide a fresh burst of flavours to compliment the creamy coconut milk.

4. Pasta

Penne pasta with meatballs, black olives and puttanesca sauce

All teens are likely to have a favourite pasta dish, which will end up being their easy go-to option after flying the nest. Help them to expand their pasta repertoire with our fail-safe recipes, including punchy meatball bake, pesto pasta, spaghetti bolognese, green spaghetti & meatballs and a cheesy pasta bake. Once they’ve mastered a rich ragu sauce, they’ll be able to take on anything!

5. Bowl food

Chicken and vegetables with rice in a bowl

There’s nothing more satisfying then preparing a beautiful bowl of food to scoop with your spoon. Whether your kids want to compile a colourful lunch or energising breakfast bowl, painting the ranbow will ensure they’re packing in a range of fruit and veg while honing their culinary creativity.

6. Quesadillas

Squash and feta quesadillas with rocket salad

This is basically a bit of a graduation from making your own sandwich, but creating something simple and delicious from scratch can feel like a real milestone. This recipe involves simple kitchen tasks like slicing and frying vegetables and handling a hot griddle pan – but there are relatively few steps to follow. A great recipe for your teen to trial cooking for a friend, and the results are scrumptious.

7. Omelettes

Folded omelette filled with feta and sundried tomatoes, with lettuce

Omelettes are a great stand-by meal for a hungry teen, and most of us usually have a box of eggs spare. Once they’ve cracked the basic recipes they can start getting creative with ingredients like feta & semi-dried tomatoes or chorizo, potato & cheese. Plonk your teenager down in front of our how to make a perfect omelette, and they shouldn’t be able to go too far wrong.

8. Chilli

Chilli con carne in a bowl

Chilli is one of those age old recipes that will always be passed down through generations with a few special family twists along the way. Whether your teens want to stir up a meaty classic or hearty plant-based version, our quick and hassle-free recipes will form a great base for them to master this comforting one-pot.

9. Smoothies

Three glasses of berry smoothie

If you have a battle with your teenager over eating breakfast, then a fruit-packed smoothie might make a good compromise. There’s something quite satisfying about blitzing one of these up, and they also make for a good mid-afternoon booster. Super simple to make, our peach Melba smoothie and breakfast super-shake should be able to tempt most teens into action.

10. Bakes

Biscuits

Simple baking recipes are a great way of gaining confidence in the kitchen, and the show-off potential can make them more appealing to a new chef. If you are worried about your teenager’s sugar intake, then this may help channel that desire for a sugar fix into something more wholesome. Baking something quick and easy can also make for a therapeutic break between study sessions.

DAILY SERVINGS FOR AN TEENAGER’S DIET

  • Breads / Starches: Most teens need 5 to 10 servings per day. One serving is the amount listed below.
    • 1 bagel or muffin
    • 2 slices bread
    • 1/2 cup cooked cereal, pasta, potatoes, or rice
    • 1 ounce or 3/4 cup dry cereal
  • Fruits: Most teens need 2 to 3 servings per day. One serving is the amount listed below.
    • 1/2 cup canned fruit or fruit juice
    • 1 piece fresh fruit, such as an apple, orange, peach, or pear
    • 15 to 20 grapes
    • 1-1/2 cups fresh berries or melon
  • Meat / Meat Substitutes: Most teens need 3 to 5 servings per day. One serving is the amount listed below.
    • 1/2 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
    • 3/4 to 1 cup cooked dried beans or legumes
    • 1 egg
    • 1 ounce lowfat or regular cheese
    • 2 to 3 ounces meat, fish, or poultry
    • 2 to 3 Tbsps peanut butter (after age 2)
  • Milk or Yogurt: Most teens need 4 to 5 servings per day. One serving is equal to 1 cup lowfat milk or yogurt. If your teenager does not like milk or yogurt, one ounce of cheese or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese may be used instead.
  • Vegetables: Most teens need 2 to 3 servings per day. One serving is the amount listed below.
    • 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetable
    • 2 cups salad greens
    • 1 cup vegetable or tomato juice
  • Your teen should eat only enough of the following foods to meet their calorie needs.
    • Fats: Most teens need 2 to 4 servings per day. One serving is the amount listed below.
      • 6 almonds or 10 peanuts
      • 2 Tbsps cream cheese, avocado, or low calorie salad dressing
      • 1 tsp oil, margarine, mayonnaise, or butter
      • 1 Tbsp salad dressing
    • Sweets and Desserts: Eat only enough from this group to stay at a good body weight. Many teenagers can eat 1 to 3 servings per week without gaining too much weight. Remember too much sweets and desserts will also effect the amount of skin problems your teenager has, like pimples. One serving is a medium portion, such as 1/8 of a pie, 1/2 cup ice cream, a 3-inch pastry,1/2 cup pudding, or 2 small cookies.

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