by Miranda Sokan and Carlton Rausch D’Youville College nursing students interning at OracleCharterSchool, Buffalo, NY
As a teenager, you may feel invincible and give little thought to the way you eat. However, your eating habits now can affect your health for the rest of your life. Teenage wellness is based on many factors, but one specific area that should be talked about is nutrition and fast food services. Every single day, one out of three young people ages four to nineteen eat fast food. You need to start taking charge of your own health.
Being overweight can lead to many health problems, such as type 2 diabetes. People who have type 2 diabetes cannot utilize the hormone insulin, which helps the body’s cells convert the sugar from foods into energy. When you are overweight, your body has more trouble using insulin.
Remember that your body needs many different types of foods to stay healthy. You need to eat fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish, lean meats, milk products, and grains. If you eat fast-food burgers, fries, and shakes every day, you won’t be getting the proper nutritional balance. You should eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Each meal, half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. There are no limits on the quantities of tasty fruits and veggies you can enjoy, unless, of course, you load ’em up with butter or dressing, or deep-fry them! But many of us still find it hard to fit fruit and veggies into our meals.
Here are some tips on how to start a healthier diet.
Start with the first meal of the day. Plan to eat a serving or two of fruit with breakfast every day. Mix it up so you don’t get bored. Half a grapefruit, an apple, or a handful of berries on your cereal are all good choices. Continue this pattern by eating vegetables at lunch and at dinner. According to Mr. Pawloski, “Be careful about eating too much sweetened cereal for breakfast you’ll end up with a sugar crash in the middle of your morning class.”
Get extra energy from fruit or vegetable snacks. The carbohydrates in fruit and vegetables are great sources of energy. Combine them with a serving of protein — such as a piece of cheese, a cup of yogurt, or a tablespoon of peanut butter, and you get staying power too.
Double up on fruit and veggie servings. Recommended servings of fruit and veggies can be small. Unlike other foods, it’s alright to double the serving size of fruit or vegetables. Serve yourself a 1-cup portion of broccoli or tomatoes instead of the standard serving of ½ cup.
Try a new fruit, vegetable, each week. Our bodies like variety. So set a goal to try something different each week. You may find a new favorite. One good way to get variety is to eat the fruit and veggies that are in season in your area.
OracleCharterSchool is one of the high schools in Buffalo, NY, and is committed to expanding the horizons of its college bound students and enriching their world view