A good diet is crucial during adolescence. Some tips:
Think on their terms: Teens will care that healthy eating will promote clear skin, thick hair, a good body weight and more energy and brainpower.
Calcium is key: Teens need at least two daily servings of low-fat dairy to support bone growth. Other good sources are dark green vegetables, nuts and fortified cereals.
Iron is also key: It helps build lean body mass, increase red blood cell production and, for girls, replace iron lost during menstruation. Iron-rich foods include lean red meats, chicken, fish, beans, broccoli, spinach and fortified whole grains.
Add folic acid: This vitamin also helps build lean muscle, and girls need it to guard against birth defects in future pregnancies. Dark green vegetables, citrus fruits and fortified breads and cereals are good choices.
Boost fiber intake: Encourage teens to eat fruits and vegetables, along with whole-grain breads and cereals with 3 to 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Offer breakfast options: Fill a basket with fruit, whole-grain granola bars or small bags of handmade trail mix.
Be realistic about fast food: Instead of forbidding it, educate teens on healthy swaps such as grilled chicken sandwiches for fried, mustard for mayonnaise, apple slices for fries or baked chips for regular.