Good nutrition benefits growing teenagers

Caden Munderloh Web Editor

Healthy Choice. Eating salad and chicken, sophomore Mario Garcia enjoys school lunch almost every day in the cafeteria. Garcia said that he believes the school food is nutritious. “I love the variety and the amount of salads, fruits, and vegetables. I also love how it’s not all the same. The different food groups make me think school food is healthy,” Garcia said. Photo by Caden Munderloh

A healthy lifestyle is essential to everyone if you want to live life to the fullest, and a good diet is a large part of being healthy. Important as a good diet is, it’s often overlooked even though students are taught about it in school at an early age.

The most prevalent example the importance of diet is the phrase,  “you are what you eat.” Everyone has heard it at some point in their lives, but almost no one realizes how true that phrase is. If you eat a carrot you are not going to become a carrot, but what it really means is that your diet and nutrition directly correlate to your health and well-being, which is why a healthy diet is even more important.

“A healthy diet and nutrition is extremely important for teenagers as you only have one body, so you need to take care of it. The choices that you are making now will affect you as an adult, so make good decisions knowing that you want to live a long, healthy life,” Physicians Assistant Lisa Kollasch said.

 Students do not always have a say so in what they eat at home. Most kids and teens eat whatever their parents make or bring home, but even if the food they cook is healthy, it sometimes comes in portion sizes that can make a meal unhealthy. Portion sizes are a hard thing to get right because it is different for each person. One thing that is the same for every one is that fast food is not healthy, with often having over sized portions and with being saturated in calories and fats while not having any nutritional value. Despite being unhealthy, fast food is commercialized as good and widely accepted in people’s diets.

“Have you ever noticed that there are more advertisements on TV about bad foods during meal times? The companies that make bad foods do that to sell you more bad food,” Kollasch said. “They have a business to sell you more bad food, so make the advertisements look fun and appealing. The bad food products are high in calories, low in nutrients, and significantly increase your chance for obesity.”        

Fast food is unhealthy, but healthy food can also be unhealthy depending on your eating habits. For example, fast food can be healthy as long as it’s eaten sparingly and not often. At the same time, healthy food eating in too large or too small quantities is unhealthy. Each person has to find the right portion sizes for them, and one’s portion size changes throughout their life, depending on their age, size, physical activities, and medical conditions.

According to SA Health, bad eating behaviors include eating too little or too much, not having enough nutrients in your diet, or consuming too many types of food and drink that does not hold any nutritional value.

Teens need a variety of foods to provide the nutrition they need day to day. People need a lot of fruits and vegetables in their diet for many reasons like vitamins and minerals along with fats, but the healthy kind. Healthy fats from vegetables and fruits are oils such as olive oil. Fats and healthy fats differ from each other in many ways, but an easy give away is that all healthy fats are liquid at room temperature. Meats are also an important part of one’s diet, especially for protein and calories. People need calories to move and think every day; it’s the body’s primary energy source, but protein has other jobs like growing and healing muscles. All different nutrients we need have different jobs that are a requirement for not only being healthy, but living in general.

“I recommend anything that is not overly processed or has preservatives. A good rule of thumb is to shop for things that are on the perimeter – outside walls – of the grocery store; this is where you will find fresh produce, meats, dairy, etc.,” Kollasch said. “When looking at a label or making sure it doesn’t have more than 5 ingredients. And if it did, the bad food is going to be over processed and most likely have preservatives in it.” 

Nutrition is extremely important day to day. It may not seem like you’re hungry or you may have just eaten, but still are hungry. That’s because most people don’t eat the proper amount of the right nutrients every day which will affect your ability to be active and affect your health. It’s important to understand what to eat when you are younger to help lead a healthy life 

“Many have said that healthy foods are like medicine for the body to heal. The nutrients in healthy food enable the cells in our bodies to perform their necessary functions. If you don’t supply those cells with what they need by following a bad diet, they will not work right and you will feel tired, weak, stomach upset, and sometimes experience muscle soreness,” Kollasch said.

When your body ages and changes, the requirements to stay healthy change, too, but it’s important to make the most healthy decisions early on in life to make better consistently healthy decisions in the future. Being healthy doesn’t mean you can’t have unhealthy things or enjoy certain foods. Instead, you just have to regulate how much and how often you have such things. After all, you can be addicted to certain foods and or drinks like caffeine rather easily. Every decision you make now affects your future.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, as you get older, you’re able to start making your own decisions about your life. You may choose your own style, friends, and hobbies. But you also have to be ready to make decisions about your mind, body, and health.