Adolescence, the period between 10 and 15 years, is the final window of growth and development in your child’s life. Primed to grow, with a milieu of the right hormones, teens’ nutritional needs increase up to 2x* compared to period before puberty. This once in a lifetime dramatic growth demands energy and key nutrients and sets the stage for adult health, both in the short and long term.
Wholesome snacks plug nutrition gaps (Click to expand)
With busy and active lifestyles as well as long school hours it is not uncommon for teens to miss main meals. Now older and more independent, teens also develop food preferences and dietary habits which are often governed by taste and convenience.
In a recent local survey conducted by Abbott, 1 in 4 Singapore teens reported missing meals, especially breakfast. Around 70% of the teens surveyed also reported not meeting recommended servings of wholegrains, fruits and vegetables.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that teenagers eat three meals and at least one snack a day.1 Snacking on wholesome and nutritious food and drinks during and after-school may help your teen manage hunger, boost energy levels and more importantly provide the critical nutrients they need to support last growth spurt.
Help teens snack right (Click to expand)
The Abbott survey also found that 1 in 4 Singapore teens reported more unhealthy snacking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, only 5% perceived that their snack choices were healthy and reported that their top snack choices were chocolate (80%), chips (75%) and ice cream (74%).
Empowering teens to make smarter snack choices helps achieve nutrient goals. Nutrient-dense food choices and beverages may help them enjoy sustained energy, improve concentration, boost nutrient intake and more importantly, manage weight. On the contrary, poor snack choices that are high in calories, simple sugar or ‘bad’ fats can result in weight gain and impact energy levels. Unhealthy eating may trigger other undesired behaviors like extreme dieting, fad diets and eating disorders which may damage health and impair growth.
Nutrient-dense snacks defined
Nutritious snacks should ideally deliver:
- carbohydrates for energy, with little or no added sugars
- ‘good’ fats like monounsaturated fats (MUFA) while being low in saturated fats and free of trans fats
- adequate protein and other vital nutrients such as fibre, iron and calcium
Top tips for healthy snacking (Click to expand)
- Ration portions: Active teens can pick 1 to 2 snack portions per day that deliver 250 – 300 kcals per serve; and, for those with less active lifestyles just one snack a day that delivers less than 250 kcals per serve can pack a nutrient punch
- Get on a quest for the best: Select snacks that deliver more of the vital nutrients that support growth and development. Protein for muscles building; calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K for bone strength; anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamins C and E as well as zinc for immune support. Reading and comparing snack labels will help teens pick their favorite snacks.
- Plan and schedule snacks: Planned snacking will help prevent pitfalls like buying and devouring unhealthy snacks when hungry. Preparing ahead will help teens stay on track with the right snack choice in the right portion.
- Dare to pass: Surrounded by friends indulging in unhealthy snack choices, teens may be pressurized to give in. Support your teens with much-needed life-skills that empower him to say no.
Tasty & nutritious snack ideas (Click to expand)
Eggs-you-like it: Hard boiled, soft-boiled, scrambled eggs are great protein and nutrient-rich fillers on their own or with biscuits or bread
Nuts & seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds and more – toasted or baked, make excellent fillers on their own or work as toppings on a bowl of cereal
Yogurt and cheese: Rich in protein and calcium, these dairy choices are a delicious addition to the daily teen menu. Accompanied with a wholegrain cracker or toast or eaten alone, most teens delight in these comfort foods.
Fresh and dried fruit: Rich in fibre and a host of vitamins, fruit make convenient snacks both at home and, while on the run.
Popular corn: Grilled corn on the cob, steamed corn or corn kernels popped on a roasting pan - spiced up with natural herbs and a dash of seasoning – these showstoppers may tempt teens to take a decent helping.
Beans and peas: Traditional snacks like kacang puteh, boiled garbanzo beans and peanuts, chestnuts and more; soybean curd with less sugar are healthy, wholesome and affordable fillers too.
Dairy delights: Chilled milk and yogurt shakes with less sugar but flavored with real fruit or fruit juice are a teen crowd pleaser.
Soy surprise: Soybean milk sweetened with little or no sugar, served warm or chilled in a delicious and familiar local beverage.
Fruit shakes: In small portions of ½ cup per serve and with little or no added sugar, natural fruit juices are hydrating and nourishing. Freeze fresh fruit popsicles for the occasional delight.
Snack with confidence with complete, balanced oral nutritional supplement (Click to expand)
Just 1 or two serves a day of the nutrient-dense, complete and balanced oral nutrition supplement plugs many nutritional gaps in the diets of teens who miss meals or eat very few foods. Convenient and delicious, this unique supplement also goes a long way to support teens with very active lifestyles delivering much needed energy and protein.
The ideal complete and balanced oral nutrition supplement for teens should be also be designed to meet the increased need for key nutrients (Eg. Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin Bs, Vitamin C) during this period of accelerated growth and yet appeal to the demanding taste buds of picky teens.
For comfort & greater confidence, you may be glad to know these unique supplements also deliver a wide range of vitamins and minerals making every sip a nutrient-packed power choice. Available in a variety of flavors as a ready-to-drink bottle or an easy-to-prepare powder, you can help your growing teen meet nutrient goals by building in a complete and balanced oral nutrition supplement shake into the daily meal plan.
1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Jan 2021. Title: When Should My Kids Snack?. Accessed 10 Jan 2022.
*For Protein, Vit A, Iron and Vit C for teenagers (13-18 years) compared with children (7-12 years) based on the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for normal healthy persons in Singapore (Children & Adolescents).