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Take Charge of Your Health
ATeenager's Guide to Better Health

In This Article:

Family Matters

The Food Guide Pyramid

So, Where Do I Start?

What Counts as a Serving?

Physical Activity

For a Healthy Diet, Eat Daily

Get Moving

Let's Talk About Health

You Are What You Eat!

Staying Healthy and Happy

You Are What You Eat!

Take a look at your eating habits. What you eat, where you eat, and why you eat are important to your health. As a teen, you need to eat a variety of foods that give you the nutrients your growing body needs. Eating better and being more active can make you feel better and think more clearly.

What do you eat?

If you eat a lot of burgers and fries or pizza loaded with toppings—plus an extra helping of dessert—your diet is probably not balanced.

There’s nothing wrong with eating these foods—you just need to eat smaller amounts and balance them with other foods.

Where do you usually eat?

If you eat in places such as your room or in front of the TV, you may want to change that habit. Eating while doing other things makes it easy to lose track of how much you’ve already eaten.

By eating meals and snacks at a table, you can pay more attention to what you’re eating so that you don’t overeat.

(If you want to snack while watching TV, take a small amount of food with you—such as a handful of pretzels or a couple of cookies—not the whole bag.)

Why do you eat?

To see if you need to change your eating habits, let’s look at why you eat. For most people, reasons to eat are:

  • Time of day
  • Hunger
  • Food looks tempting
  • Everyone else is eating
  • Boredom, frustration, nervousness, or sadness

The best reason to eat is because your body tells you that you are hungry. If you are eating when you are not hungry, try doing something else to get food off of your mind. Call a friend, exercise, read, or work on a craft. These activities can help you to cut back on eating when you are feeling bored, upset, or stressed.

To improve your eating habits, try to eat the suggested number of servings from each food group in the Food Guide Pyramid.

The Food Guide Pyramid

Note: A range of servings is given for each group. The smaller number is for people who consume about 1,600 calories a day, such as inactive women. The larger number is for those who eat about 2,800 calories a day, such as teenage boys, active men, and very active women.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. 01-4328

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