Regardless of your age, good nutrition is important. Good nutrition can help maintain a healthy weight, and can also keep certain illnesses and diseases at bay, particularly if a good diet is combined with regular exercise.

However, there's no getting around the fact that your nutritional requirements do change as you get older. Just as a baby wouldn’t be subject to the same diet as a 40-year old adult, so too are teenagers subject to different nutritional needs compared to older adults.

As a result, it’s important to know what’s best to eat and drink, at every stage of your life. This article highlights some key nutritional requirements of teenagers, and how those requirements differ for the elderly.

If you’re looking for more information about how to make sure you’re getting the best possible nutrition or would like ideas for meal plans that help ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need, you can also reach out to a nutrition tutor at Superprof to find out more about healthy eating and how it can do wonders for your body.

Equally, nutrition tutors at Superprof are well placed to teach you the tools needed to be more aware of how to identify healthy foods when shopping, which can make a huge difference when it comes to improving the quality of your normal diet.

An image of a variety of fruits and vegetables. A healthy balanced diet is important when it comes to healthy eating for teens.
A balanced diet is important, whether you're considering the nutritional needs of a teenager or the diet of an elderly person. (Image Source: CC0 1.0, OpenClipart-Vectors, Pixabay)

The Nutritional Needs Of A Teenager

When you’re a teenager, your body is still growing in many ways. As a result, good nutrition is crucial during this stage of life. Despite this, teenagers are often associated with having some of the worst diets around, with a perceived focus on unhealthy snacks, processed foods, or even skipping meals altogether.

Although this certainly won’t be the case for every teenager, if you do know of a teen that has less-than-optimal nutrition, then the key thing to let them know is that occasional treats, whether in the form of sugary drinks, chocolate, or other snacks, are fine, but the key is balance, and so they should still make sure that they are getting the nutrition that their growing bodies need.

Generally, when it comes to diet, teenagers should focus on the following:

  • Getting at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, preferably more;
  • Not skipping any meals;
  • Limiting foods that are high in sugars, salts, and saturated fats; and
  • Staying hydrated – usually, around eight glasses of water per day should be sufficient.

A balanced diet is also crucial, with a focus on consuming a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, dairy or suitable alternatives, along with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Additionally, teenagers should try and incorporate a regular exercise routine into their lives, and couple this with a good diet. Exercise can be taken in many forms, from running and jogging to brisk walking and swimming. The amount of exercise needed per teenager will likely vary, depending on factors such as whether the teenager in question is overweight, and how intensely they are able to exercise.

If in any doubt about how much exercise is best, it’s worth consulting with your healthcare provider for a full assessment.

For more guidance on what foods and snacks are great for teenagers, or if you’d like to learn more about the body’s nutritional requirements during the teenage years, you can also reach out to a tutor on Superprof for further information. Just enter your postcode to find a tutor in your local area who would be able to provide assistance, although remote lessons are also possible if you prefer to work with someone online.

An image of a pile of crisps. Unhealthy snacks aren't good in high amounts when it comes to good nutrition for teenagers.
Unhealthy snacks should be minimised when it comes to nutrition for teenagers. (Image Source: CC0 1.0, 41330, Pixabay)

The Differences In Elderly Nutrition

Although it’s important to maintain good nutrition and exercise regardless of how old you are, there’s no denying that your nutritional requirements change as you get older.

For example, while nutrients such as iron, vitamin C, and vitamin B12 can be important to teenagers, as you get older the focus tends to shift towards nutrients such as:

A great way to ensure that elderly adults get such nutrition, making sure that you eat foods such as fortified cereals, lean meats, leafy green vegetables, oily fish, and milk or an equivalent diary source can be a great way to work towards a balanced and varied diet.

One of the main changes in the nutritional requirements of older adults is the fact that, generally, the energy requirements of the elderly tend to be lower than younger adults, due to a number of factors, such as a reduction in mobility or exercise.

As a result, older adults may not need to eat as much as younger adults, and overeating may lead to issues such as being overweight. The best way to counteract such issues is to try and ensure that older adults still take part in regular exercise.

Generally, thirty minutes of exercise at least five times a week is considered sufficient for older people and may help reduce the risk of health problems such as diabetes. Exercise involving strength training may also be beneficial to older adults.

Additionally, consideration should be taken as to what older adults are eating, and whether it’s healthy, balanced, and in line with the energy requirements of their body.

Equally, if getting sufficient nutrition becomes a problem for the elderly – perhaps due to illness, lack of mobility, or a lack of funds, then it may be worthwhile to see whether it’s possible to have healthy meals cooked in batches and frozen, so that at least some days they won’t have to cook a meal from scratch to get the benefits of a nutritious meal.

I was treated to many recipes for healthy food in my nutrition courses online!

A hand writing the word "exercise" in blue pen. Exercise and a balanced diet are part and parcel of good nutrition for teenagers.
Exercise forms part of a healthy lifestyle and is very important when considering the wider nutritional needs of a teenager. (Image Source: CC BY-SA 3.0, Nick Youngson, Alpha Stock Images)

Learn More About Nutrition For Teenagers And Older Adults

Ultimately, the key to having a healthy diet, and hopefully healthy body, is to make sure that:

  • You eat right with a healthy, balanced diet;
  • You limit the number of unhealthy snacks or processed foods that you consume; and
  • You exercise regularly.

While these key principles should be adhered to throughout almost all stages of life, it is true that exactly what we should eat and the challenges we face when looking for a balanced diet do differ depending on how old we are.

For instance, teenagers may find themselves very hungry at times, which could be down to the fact that their bodies are growing or that they are especially active teenagers. In such cases, the challenge is to ensure that the teen is eating regular, balanced meals, and isn’t looking to fill their hunger through processed foods or other sugary snacks or drinks.

Conversely, an elderly person may struggle to get the right nutrition that they need because they aren’t able to cook regularly for themselves, or they may not have the money available to buy fresh ingredients all the time.

In such cases, the challenge then becomes how to find a way to make sure that the individual is still eating a balanced diet, without becoming at risk of malnourishment. Cooking in bulk and freezing food in batches is one such way that these issues can be tackled.

Regardless of how old you are, the main thing is to try and make the best food choices possible and to try and maintain a healthy weight through a combination of physical activity, eating a mixture of food groups, and watching our calorie intake if we need to lose or maintain weight.

This can be achieved by having a good understanding of what constitutes a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and by having a solid nutrition education so that you can read food labels effectively at the supermarket and develop healthy eating habits that will stand you in good stead for years to come.

While we all understand the importance of a healthy diet, it’s equally fair to say that many of us struggle to eat well and avoid the temptations that fizzy drinks, chocolates, crisps, or cakes may bring. If you want to improve your diet and make healthier choices but struggle to find tasty and filling alternatives to sugary or salty snacks, then you may do well to speak with a nutrition tutor at Superprof.

They can provide an overview of which healthy foods are a great source of nutrition for your body, and can also work with you to come up with meal plans that will keep you satisfied and healthy, without the need to turn to junk food. After all, good eating habits can be much easier to stick to if you know how to keep cravings at bay while knowing how to prepare delicious, healthy foods.

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Read about a healthy pregnancy diet here.

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