Interestingly, there are many teen mental health treatment centers that are beginning to include nutritional counseling. This is not only true for teens who are seeking treatment for addiction, mental illness, or eating disorders. This is also true for adults living at residential treatment centers for addiction. Nutritional counseling is becoming a significant part of treating one’s mental health for both teens and adults.
In fact, adolescents might find that their schools and recreational or sports activities are also promoting an eating regimen for building a strong physical, emotional, and psychological foundation. For instance, the following regimen is based upon the premise that adolescents can develop to their full potential by eating from a wide variety of food classes and getting all the nutrition teens need. The following might be used by parents or teens themselves as a means for making sure their diet brings nourishment and energy.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains: This should make up ¾ of every meal. These foods provide carbohydrates, which is primary fuel for working hard at practice. You only have a limited supply of this food source in your body so being sure to replenish this food type is essential. If you don’t, you’ll notice yourself dragging in practice.
Protein Foods: This food group should make up the other ¼ of your meal. These are foods like meats, chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, beans, and tofu. They provide amino acids, which are the building blocks for making other types of protein, and help you build muscle tissue. This food group is also a good source of iron. This is an important mineral you need to maintain your energy level.
Dairy Foods: The best recommendation for this food group is to have 3-4 servings per day. This includes milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and ice scream. Remember to choose lower fat options as best you can. These foods provide high quality protein, carbs, calcium, and Vitamin D as well. During the growth of adolescence, you’ll be adding on 40% more bone to your body, requiring all the calcium you can get.
Fat: This is the primary muscle fuel you use during low intensity activities. Be sure to steer clear of the unhealthy versions and instead choose the healthy fats such as those found in fish, like salmon; and a variety of plant sources, such as nuts, avocados, and vegetable oils.
It’s easy to lose a sense of balance regarding food and eating when you’re an adolescent. This is especially true for many teens today who spend a significant amount of time on their laptops, Iphones, or Ipads. There is frequent communication via technology. Instead of going for a hike, run, or walk with friends, teens are spending time “hanging out” online.
Furthermore, having a physical imbalance can be true for teen athletes. When sports become such a passion in a teen’s life, there might be more of an emphasis on performing well, looking good, and meeting the demands of coaches to be a certain weight or size. This is especially true for ice skating, swimming, gymnastics, ballet, figure skating, long distance running, and wrestling. These pressures can get in the way of having a balanced diet and regular exercise. There might be an emphasis on how the body looks and meeting performance goals which can keep you from eating enough. It might keep you from eating at levels you need to in order to stay healthy, balanced, and physically whole. There’s no question that some teens face significant challenges to their physical and mental health, simply due to their diet.
However, the above diet might be a good start. It might provide the foundation upon which to refine an eating and exercise schedule that promotes physical and mental health.