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Written by Emily Parks on September 2nd, 2016

IS YOUR TEEN AT RISK?

Teen girls are complicated. I can say that; I was one not too long ago.

Body image is a big deal and the pressure to look a certain way can be daunting – or at least it was when I was a teen.
As we start focusing more on physical appearances, we’re drawn to the beauty and fitness sections of the latest magazines, and health and wellness becomes an important topic.

Adolescence is a transition period where the ‘not-yet-adult’ is gradually given more responsibility, including responsibility over eating habits and food choices. It’s no wonder that during this period of utter chaos, or more correctly, rapid growth and development, unhealthy decisions are made.

And this is where restrictive eating comes in…
Restricting whole food groups, such as breads and cereals or dairy products, can greatly impact nutritional status – especially if replacement foods are not carefully planned.

Ironically, a restrictive diet lacking in key nutrients can lead to dry skin, breakouts, signs of aging, poor sleep, and can impact mental health – none of which are wanted by young women!

Teen girls need more iron than teen boys or children and it’s important they eat a wide range of iron-rich foods to meet daily needs. Low iron can cause your teenager to feel weak and tired, look pale, and may impact on learning and performance at school or during sports.

Young women should be encouraged to include lean red meat in their diet a few times a week as lean red meat contains a form of iron that is easily absorbed by the body.

I’m not eating that!
Weight loss is one reason teens may choose to exclude meat from their diet. However, lean beef and lamb are extremely nutritious foods while being low in fat.

Only about half the fat in lean beef and lamb is saturated fat with the rest being mainly monounsaturated fats and a small amount of polyunsaturated fats.

As well as higher iron needs, teenagers require protein for optimal growth and development. Lean red meat is an excellent source of highly biological value protein, as well as other key nutrients: iron, zinc, selenium and vitamin B12.

What it all comes down to – balance!
Young women aged 15-18 are most likely to exclude red meat from their diet; they are also the group with the highest prevalence of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia.

Encourage your whole family, including your delightful teens, to eat a varied diet which includes plenty of iron-rich foods.
Lean beef and lamb are ideal choices but other animal foods, green leafy vegetables, and fortified products are also good sources.  

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