The teenage years are truly the most magical years! 

Yes, mentally and emotionally, these years may seem confusing, but physically, your teenage years are one of the peak moments of your life. Especially for the teenage girls, 13 to 18 are full of changes of every kind – physical, hormonal, emotional and psychological. You have just left your childhood behind and you are almost a woman, and these 7 years in between could be, by far, the most important ones of the rest of your life. 

What’s most prominent about the teenage years are all the changes we see in a girl: 

  • Physical Changes. The physical changes are the greatest, during this age. Girls experience their first period during this time, their breasts start to develop, and they start to grow pubic hair. Their bodies start to change, curves appear and their figure starts to look more feminine than childish. These days, the changes come even earlier for some girls, in their pre-teen years. 
  • Hormonal Changes. Introduction of new hormones in their body makes girls feel more feminine and more aware of their body. These hormones also make them restless, angrier and easily agitated. Unpredictable mood swings appear, especially around their period. 
  • Psychological Changes. Girls begins to feel more emotional during this age, unsure of themselves. They ways of feeling and expressing themselves change; they can either become more vocal or withdrawn, depending on their personality. 

For some girls, weight could be a problem at this age. While, in general, teenagers have a wonderful metabolism, it is also possible to gain weight uncontrollably if you are not careful. The teenage years are not for limiting healthy food or dieting, because your body is growing. But you should, at the same time, know what your body needs to give your growing years the support you need. 

This is the perfect time to start eating healthy instead of junk food and fast food that teenagers are fond of. Teenage are the perfect years to know what kind of food are good for your health and what are bad, and form habits that will last a lifetime. 

Here are some tips for eating healthy and maintaining a good weight for teenage girls. These specific eating guidelines can help not just between the ages of 13 to 19, but also when you have grown into a woman. 

  • Don’t Diet

These are not the years for starving yourself or following a harsh diet to lose weight; your body is a growing body and it needs a lot of nutrition. Avoiding everything that can contribute the least number of calories is not the right way for you. What you need is to fit the right calories into your diet, eating what’s healthy for you and will keep your weight in check. 

Most crash diets, or dash diets, as they are called, will help you lose weight, but they might also hamper your growth during these important years. You cannot avoid anything that’s important for your mental and physical growth, but balance your food with adequate exercise. 

  • Don’t Give in to Eating Disorders 

Both anorexia and bulimia are extremely common eating disorders among teenage girls, especially those conscious about their weight. Refusing to eat anything or throwing up immediately after eating – these are two ways of dealing with food by many teenage girls desperate to lose weight, both extremely bad for your future. 

No amount of weight loss is worth developing such life-threatening eating disorders. You should know what to eat that won’t result in significant weight gain but will give you all the nutrition you need for growing up properly. 

  • Cut out Fast Food  

When you’re out with friends, the most natural thing in the world would be to order hamburgers and pizzas, French Fries and milkshakes – all of which are bad for you and will directly add to your weight. When you binge on fast food, no amount of starving later can eliminate the amount of carbohydrates and sugar you’ve put inside your body. 

So even when you are hanging out with your friends at the mall or at cafés, order sensibly. Order a unsweetened fruit smoothie instead of a sugar-filled milkshake, drink black coffees instead of a latte or a cappuccino, ask for salad options instead of a pizza, and eat the patty of your hamburger, leaving the buns and the mayonnaise behind. When you are too much tempted, eat not more than three to four French fries, but eliminate all other carbohydrates for the rest of the day. 

When you learn to order sensibly at a fast food restaurant or a café, you don’t have to miss out on having fun with your friends just because you want to eat healthy. 

  • Avoid Processed Food 

Another important food group to avoid are everything that’s processed and comes in packets – cookies and chips, candy bars and chocolates. These kind of foods have everything you should avoid – sugar, carbohydrates, salt and oil. Give yourself a “cheat hour” once every week when you can eat some chips or take a few bites out of a chocolate bar, but not regularly. This way, you won’t miss out on everything you love, but you will also not gain a lot of weight. 

Don’t deny yourself what you love on special occasions. You don’t have to be on such a strict diet that you can’t even eat your own birthday cake! Your teenage years are for enjoying yourself, so you can allow yourself some unhealthy, sugar-filled, deep fried food sometimes. Just remember that they shouldn’t be a very big part of your daily meals. 

  • Cut back on Sugar 

Almost everything that teenagers love has lots of sugar in them, from chocolate bars to milkshakes, cakes and cookies, to muffins, cupcakes, desserts, creamy coffee drinks, soda drinks, sports and energy drinks, fruit juices and smoothies, ice cream, everything. All this sugar does nothing more to them than give them temporary energy, hike their blood sugar level momentarily before an eventual fall. 

Just like adults, teenage girls should also eliminate sugar as much as you can from your food habits. Avoid all drinks that has refined sugar in it and only drink water or naturally-sweetened smoothies; cut back on desserts as much as you can, and try to snack on whole fruits. 

  • Eat Plenty of Proteins and Fibers  

Just like adults, teenagers need to add a lot of proteins and fibers in their meals as well. Protein builds muscles and skin, and that’s what you need during these growing years of yours. Whole eggs, lean chicken and turkey meat, lean ground beef, beans and lentils, all kind of nuts and seeds, oatmeal, fish, seafood and shellfish – all these are healthy protein options that will really help your body during these years. 

Fibers improve your metabolic rate so that you can digest your food better. Fruits, vegetables and leafy greens are nature’s best sources of fiber and should be present in every meal. Your breakfast, lunch and dinner meals should be a healthy combination of proteins and fiber, with a little amount of carbs. 

  • Drink Plenty of Water 

Drink water throughout the day, plenty of it. The more you drink water, the less unnecessary snacking leads to weight gain for a teenager. Your growing body needs plenty of water to boost your metabolism, give you the energy you need and hydrate your body. Besides, the secrets to good, glowing skin is in drinking plenty of water. 

A glass with each meal, and plenty in between meals throughout the day – there’s no limit to the amount of water you should drink every day, but it should be around 7 to 8 cups, at least. Also, remember not to replace your water with any other kind of drink, i.e. a soda, fruit juices or powdered drinks. All you need for good health, healthy organs and glowing skin is plain and fresh water. 

  • Don’t Cut of Carbs Completely  

A teenager’s body will be hungrier more often, and you’ll need some carbs to fill up this hunger. Carbs can fill you in a way that proteins and fibers can’t; not all carbohydrates are bad for you, when eaten in moderation. Your body will actually need some carbs, starch and sugar for production of hormone and brain function. 

Brown rice, brown pasta, oatmeal, quinoa, couscous, potatoes and sweet potatoes in moderation can be good for your health. Including some form of carbohydrate in your meals at least once a day can be good practice for the next few years. 

  • Be Sure to Get Plenty of Calcium 

Calcium is essential in your growth spurt and bone health during these years, and a teenage girl needs at least 1300 mg of calcium every day. This can be found in a large glass of whole milk, a cup of Greek yogurt, or a few ounces of cheddar/cottage cheese; these calcium-rich foods also contain fat, but these are healthy fats that are good for you. 

  • Try to Recognize Good Fats 

Not all fats are bad for you. Some – the good fats, actually keep your body hydrated, your hair strong and your skin glowing. This doesn’t mean you should eat deep-fried food or put too much oil in your meals. 

Good fats can be found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, or plant-based oil. These type of fats should make up to 25% to 35% of your daily meals. Salmon, tuna, whitefish and trout are the best kind of fatty fish, and oil made from canola, olive, sunflower, safflower and corn are the best oils to use. 

  • Find out Iron-rich Foods 

All teenagers need iron in their meal, but girls need it more. As teenage girls usually get their periods during this time, they lose a lot of blood every month. To make up for the lost blood and for their normal growth, teenage girls need to add spinach, dried beans, lean beef, iron-fortified cereals and peas to their meals a few days every month, especially the days during and after their period. 

Girls are usually found to be more anemic than boys, just because they lose a lot of blood every month. For some girls, the amount is too much and can leave you weak, which means you might also need iron supplements to make up for the loss. 

  • Learn to Cook Healthy 

Not all teenagers like to cook, but this is a skill that will be useful all your life. As you are starting to eat healthy for the first time in your life, you should also learn to prepare and cook some healthy meals for yourself. Your cooking skill should go beyond fixing a sandwich for yourself or pouring out cereal from a box; you should at least learn to prepare some easy recipes like fried brown rice, a roasted salmon meal, sautéed vegetables or lentil soup. 

  • Get Moving 

Of course, none of these is going to work if you spend all your leisurely moments lying in bed or sitting in front of the television. This is a serious problem among teenage boys and girls of this generation – they prefer to spend their whole day glued to their phone or their laptop. This equals to absolutely no exercise. Even if you starve yourself all day, you won’t be able to reach your weight goal if you are not physically active. 

Some teenage girls who love sports might join their school’s track team or basketball team, others prefer to lead a sedentary life. This is not going to help in the long run, unless you start walking, running or jogging every day. These are beginner-level exercises that everyone can do, and 30 to 45 minutes every day will be sufficient for first-timers. 

You need to exercise for a number of reasons: to lose weight, to burn the calories you are eating throughout the day, and to keep your body active and fit. This is not the age to hit the gym or try something intense; with the amazing metabolism most teenagers have, all you need to do is to keep as active as you can, and you will look amazing. 

So, take the stairs, dance, do Zumba, run or jog, walk your dog, play basketball or tennis, hike with your friends, or simply use the treadmill at your home a few times a day. That will be sufficient as long as you are not spending every single leisure moment you have sitting down idly, with your phone in your hand. 

  • Try some Easy Movements 

Although teenage girls don’t actually need to try complicated exercises, here are some easy ones that are harmless and effective, i.e. 

  • “Squats” that requires you to do sit-ups with your arms extended at the front, putting pressure on your hips, thighs and stomach; 
  • The“Bicycle” movement which requires you to lie down, put your legs up in the air and move them as if you are riding a bicycle; 
  • “Leg Lifts” that requires you to lie down, and lift your legs up in the air, so that they stay erect at a 90-degree angle to your stomach; and 
  • A“V-sit” which require you to lie down and make a ‘V’ between your torso and your legs, moving both parts of your body together so that there is a 45-degree angle between them. 
  • Try Yoga 

You can also try yoga, which is good not just for weight loss, but for the overall benefit of your body and mind. 

Yoga is a great practice that you can start very early in your life. Even children as young as 6 or 7 years old are trying yoga positions with their parents for concentration and meditation. Some yoga positions are designed for specific weight loss, some for toning your thighs and hips, and even for comfort during a period. This is one exercise that you can practice for the rest of your life anywhere, anytime, that will give you great peace of mind. 

  • Take it Slow 

Finally, give your body time. By their teenage years, many girls just start to shed their baby weight, and it could be a few years until you have actually reached the body you want. Your ultimate goal shouldn’t just be to lose weight but to start eating healthy so that you are strong and fit, and so that you have energy and enthusiasm in your work. 

Losing weight is the easy part; what’s hard is to maintain it without starving or hurting your body. When you are a teenage girl, your whole life is ahead of you – years with a perfect body and years when you strive to get the perfect body. What matters during this very important period of your life is that you know the rules of healthy eating and healthy living, knowledge and habits that will help you in the future.