One of my goals is to prevent and end childhood obesity so I was particularly excited to have the opportunity to talk with Alex Nongard about healthy eating for teens. Alex is an 18 year old who is very intelligent, active in school activities, leads a very social life and honors himself by eating healthy. Alex plans to major in sustainability in college and so it was fun to chat with him about healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. Plant based eating is necessary if we are to sustain our health and our planet.
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How to Feed a Vegan Teenager
One Green Planet, June 11, 2014: Teenage vegans have nutritional needs that are the same as any other teenager. The years between 13 and 19 are times of especially rapid growth and change. Nutritional needs are high during these years. The teenage vegan should follow the same recommendations that are made for all vegans, namely to eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes. The nutrients teenage vegans should be most aware of are protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12.
The recommendation for protein is 0.43 grams per pound of weight for 11 – 13 year olds and 0.4 grams per pound of weight for 14 – 18 year olds. Those exercising strenuously (marathon runners, for example) may need slightly more protein. A 16-year-old who weighs 120 pounds, needs about 48 grams of protein daily. In terms of food, 1 cup of cooked dried beans has about 15 grams of protein, a cup of soy milk has 7 grams, 4 ounces of tofu has 10-11 grams, a tablespoon of peanut butter or peanuts has 4 grams, and 1 slice of bread or 1 cup of grain has about 3 grams.
As parents, grandparents and as people, we have an obligation to teach our younger generations about sustainable lifestyles. Plant based food supports a healthy body and a healthy planet. Never in the history of people have any population eaten the way most people do today. Never in the history of people have we been so fat and so sick. In addition to obesity and it’s diseases in our children’s future is being needlessly squandered by the resulting skyrocketing healthcare costs. Childhood obesity is preventable and it is reversible. Together we can end childhood obesity.
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