As you must already know, puberty is a time of significant physical and psychological changes. Your nutrition can determine and influence your growth during this period. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and keen attention to nutritional intake can support and enable your body through the various physical, sexual, and reproductive changes it is sure to undergo. It will also help to minimize the chances of complications that could possibly arise later. Developing good, healthy habits are also a great lesson in understanding yourself better and will aid in you taking good care of yourself. In other words, paying attention to what you consume is critical to ensuring that you enjoy good health.
Due to growth spurts during puberty, you may experience an increase in appetite. Now, your body needs between 2200-2800 calories per day. Understanding how to meet these hunger needs and your body’s requirement of nutrients becomes especially important. The body needs five types of nutrients to be healthy: carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Carbohydrates and fats provide energy to, and fuel the body, while protein helps build muscles; vitamins and minerals are primarily involved in your body’s growth and repair. When you understand the functions of these nutrients, and how much of each the body requires, you can aim for a balanced diet that will provide your body with all the nutrients it needs, helping you to avoid an excess of any one of them at the cost of the others.
Identifying the Components of a Balanced Diet
First, identify the main food groups and the nutrients that they are rich in. Look at the examples of food items in nutrition charts, or observe foods that are cooked or bought frequently at your home. Second, find out more about their nutritional content. Foods are usually distinguished into four groups: (1) fruits, vegetables, and greens, (2) rice, chapatis, cereals, pasta, and such, (3) meat, fish, poultry and/or nuts and legumes, and, (4) milk and dairy products. With this knowledge in hand, you can easily balance out your diet. For instance, rice and chapatis are carbohydrate-rich foods, whereas meat is protein-rich. Armed with this information, you will be able to combine foods in a manner that ensures that your intake is balanced. Building a basic understanding of how food works is helpful, and while you may already know many of these facts, it is useful to delve deep into its details to improve the quality of your diet.
Developing a Balanced Diet
The idea really is to eat across these groups; don’t limit your intake of one particular food/group, because your body’s needs vary. For example, your body needs plenty of carbohydrates, so it can convert it into glucose and fuel the body. However, it only needs a small amount of vitamins and minerals. Having said that, it is very easy to fall short on vitamins and minerals, which can cause problems such as anemia (iron deficiency). Make sure to research more about these required quantities and also to engage in conversations with your parents and/or doctor about how you can go about incorporating them into your diet as they can help you tailor these generic requirements to meet your body’s unique requirements.
Dietary Needs and Eating Practices to Avoid
One of the dietary needs that are often overlooked is your body’s fiber needs. Fiber makes you feel full and keeps food moving in your digestive tract. It prevents constipation and reduces the risks of many diseases. You can obtain fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, cereals, and wholegrain bread, so make sure you get the right amount of yours! You must moderate salt content, avoiding foods that are high in their salt quotient. This will help you avoid high blood pressure and will prevent other health-related issues. Similarly, avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugars or fats as they will keep high cholesterol and diabetes at bay, especially if these risks run high in your family.
Along with a balanced diet, regular exercise goes a long way in protecting you against diseases and keeping you flexible. It can help cope with the unpleasant emotions and awkwardness of puberty. Incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle may be difficult. You might be thinking about how exercise sounds really boring and hard, but that doesn’t have to be true. You can meet your exercise quota through some really fun activities! Pay attention to what kinds of physical activities de-stress and motivate you, and pick and choose accordingly. You can stick with easy sit-backs and squats, walking or jogging, but you can also turn to the gym, do some roller-skating, cycling, yoga, zumba, aerobics, or even turn to dancing! Avoid sitting sedentarily for long periods of time, and when you must, make sure you maintain an upright and erect spinal posture. These small steps can really help you in the future.
As we grow up, it is so easy to forget the importance of staying hydrated. Drinking water stabilizes your body temperature, helps carry oxygen to your body’s cells, and aids in digestion. Water also does wonders for your skin! 8-10 glasses of water per day is the quantity commonly prescribed, so remember to drink as much. Fresh fruit juices can also be very beneficial, although they are not substitutes for water.
Some other suggestions for taking care of your body include brushing twice daily, flossing at regular intervals, eating dry fruits regularly, avoiding fried food, and eating three full meals. Incorporate healthy eating practices such as chewing well, eating calmly by sitting down, and avoiding snacking or eating only because you are bored. Schedule regular health check-ups and dental check-ups in order to track your body’s well-being.
Making Responsible Decisions
Remember that puberty is about transitioning into adulthood, and so it comes with a fair share of conscious choices and decisions on your part. Try to make healthy decisions when it comes to avoiding junk food and aerated drinks. Of course, they are fun to consume, and you may want to indulge in them once in a while, but make sure to set limits. For example, you might say, “I will eat chips only once in four weeks.” Or, set quantity limits like, “I will eat only two pieces of chocolate today.” Set your own goals and stick to them. Refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking and drug-taking. Your health is always in your hands, and you can be a smart, independent individual who calculates the benefits and risks of various actions while making life choices, so make sure you make them wisely and judiciously!
Mental Health and Body Image
Puberty can really reshape your relationship with your body. Your changing body may make you feel differently about yourself; observing your peers’ changes may also elicit different responses. You might see certain types of bodies and faces on TV or in advertisements, and aspire to the beauty standards that they set as the benchmark. As you adapt physically to your body by developing a healthier lifestyle, pay equal attention to its psychological adjustments. Think about your feelings surrounding your body, and have open conversations about it with your peers or those whom you trust. Examine if there are any unrealistic expectations being imposed on how you look. If you notice any lasting, recurring, or negative feelings about your body, your looks, or your eating habits, reach out to someone you can speak freely with. Sound mental and physical health are deeply connected with each other, and puberty needs healthy support and balance of both.
Why Should I Follow These Suggestions?
Sometimes, taking care of one’s health feels strenuous. It is easy to forget that good health makes everything else we do possible; we are only reminded of the difficulty of ill health when we fall sick. Good health, especially during puberty, sets the tone for many other aspects of your life. It can build your self-esteem, lift your mood, and help you learn useful skills. For example, exercising can teach you to set and maintain goals or priorities. As you grow older, these abilities will come in handy. A balanced diet also helps improve your concentration and productivity.
Good health isn’t just a means to an end; it is valuable on its own. So even if these steps seem useless or overwhelming, following them one by one, with attention and care, will hold you in good stead for a long time to come.