Vegetarian Teens

Teens or parents of teens, becoming vegetarian is a big step information on how to make delicious and nutritious food choices when becoming vegetarian.


Lunch tips for kids of all ages.

For little kids – They love to open small containers. I bought some 2 ounce containers with lids and used them for a few slices of cucumbers, nut butter or tofu spread for dipping baby carrots, 2 small ginger snaps, a couple of grape tomatoes, grapes and a couple of walnuts. Every one was like a small present.

For children 6 to 10 – School lunch is short. Some schools have a snack time or a snack that can be eaten while in class. Sandwiches are great, but everyone wants hot food in the cold weather. Heat up a thermos with hot water. Heat up a soup or stew at the last minute. Drain the thermos. The soup or stew will stay hotter in the heated thermos. Put a napkin between the thermos and any cold items. Don’t forget something crunchy to go with it – crackers or celery work fine. For the snack – a small container of apple sauce with cinnamon, snack bar or celery with nut butter and raisins work great.

For children 11-13 – Have them make lunch with you. They are beginning to need their independence. It will also get them in the kitchen and learning how to feed themselves. Set some guidelines – protein source, grain, fruit and drink. With the fall weather, you can alternating soy milk with local cider. If they have after school activities pack a snack and include water to drink.

For Teenagers – getting them to eat lunch at all is a good trick. However, either make it at home with guidelines or ask what’s available at school. Most schools have a card to swipe for purchased lunch. You set the cash amount for the card. Many food service directors will allow for specifics on purchases, such as “school lunch items only.” This means they can purchase any items designated as lunch for the school and not a la carte items such as french fries. Have your teen make their lunch. They can shop with you or make their own list of foods for lunch. Again, you are teaching them ready to feed themselves. If they have after school activities pack a snack that includes a beverage so they stay hydrated.

Hungry kids are grumpy kids. At every age, packing or purchasing enough food and drinks is the key. When you including your children in the process the food packed will more likely be eaten.


Vegetarian Myth Busters

mother-daugher-canning

Thinking about becoming a #vegan, #vegetarian, or switching to a #plant-based eating plan?

Do questions like this pop into your head?

  • Can I get enough protein?
  • Will my bones stay strong if I just eat plants?
  • Do vegan children grow properly?
  • Does soy cause breast cancer?

Discover the science based information that will inspire you to start creating vegetarian meals. Bust the myths — read 5 Myths About Building a Healthy Vegetarian Meal.

Already a #vegan or #vegetarian and want additional information about planning meals? Check out our FREE downloadable Resources on healthy meatless eating for all age groups.

Recommended Resources

Vegetarian/Vegan Myths ResourceVegetarian/Vegan Myths (PDF) provides information on how plant-based diets provide all the necessary nutrition for healthy diets free of animal food sources.

Vegetarian Toddlers Preschoolers RDLooking for ideas to go Meatless? (PDF) Follow these tips for including meatless meals into your family’s diet.

View all of our free Vegetarian Nutrition resources


What Plant Foods Provide Iron?

  • Iron in Vegetarian Diets ResourceAre you finding enough iron in your vegetarian diet?
  • Do you know what foods help your body absorb the iron you eat?
  • Should you take an iron supplement?

Iron deficiency anemia is a worldwide problem and often vegetarian and vegan diets are viewed as at risk for this nutrient deficiency.  Use the resource Iron in Vegetarian Diets  to discover –

  • Evidence-based research on the iron status of vegetarians
  • The best plant sources for iron
  • How vitamin C increases iron absorption

Also available in the Iron in Vegetarian Diets  resource are the requirements for athletes following any type of  vegetarian diet.

 


How To Feed A Vegetarian Teenager

  • Vegetarian Teens ResourceDid your teenager recently become a vegetarian?
  • Will your teenager no longer eat your meatloaf, baked chicken, or fish?
  • Do you want to support your teenager’s pursuit of a healthy vegetarian/vegan diet?

Then check out the resource Vegetarian Teens (PDF). This guide provides the tools teenagers (and their families) need to choose healthy foods that insure their diet supplies the nutrients needed to continue growing well.


Vegan Teen Athlete

vegan snack for a teen athleteBeing a vegan teen athlete is not complicated. It is easy for teens to receive proper nutrition for sporting events by eating a variety of foods. In general, teen athletes should receive the majority of their calories from complex carbohydrates, a moderate amount from protein, and a moderate to low amount from fat.  The bulk of these calories should be nutritionally dense, meaning they provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals. For example, nutritionally dense carbohydrates include whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain flour. Most fruits and vegetables are nutritionally dense as are vegetarian proteins.

Protein is a key macro- nutrient that many athletes focus on.  Athletes should receive 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound. It is easy to meet these requirements on a vegan diet. A good tip is to include a protein food with every meal. This can be as simple as putting peanut butter on your morning bagel, adding nuts to your salad, cooking with beans, and drinking a high-protein milk alternative, like soymilk. Vegetable proteins like tofu, tempeh, seitan, and meat analogs are protein packed. Read labels to find the meat analogs also fortified with vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12 and iron,  are two nutrients that vegans need to monitor. Vitamin B12 can be found in fortified foods, including soymilk, cereals, and nutritional yeast. Check the label to verify that the choice you make contains B12.  Foods high in iron include dark green leafy vegetables, soybeans, tofu, lentils and other dried beans, quinoa, fortified cereal, and raisins. To  maximize absorption include a food high in vitamin C—such as orange juice, tomato sauce, or broccoli—when consuming foods high in iron.

Increased exercise means increased calorie needs to maintain body weight. Because a lot of vegan foods are low in calories, it may be important to increase calorie intake especially if you are participating in a strenuous sport. One way to add calories is to eat extra snacks throughout the day and increase the calories in your meals.  The table below provides a list of quick and easy 200-400 calorie snacks to add to your diet.

200-Calorie Snacks* 400-Calorie Snacks*
1 crunchy granola bar ½ cup guacamole dip with 1 cup corn chips
1 banana with 1 TB peanut butter 8 whole wheat crackers with ¼ cup hummus
6 ounces soy yogurt with fruit 1 bagel and 2 TB peanut butter
¼ cup mixed nuts ½ cup trail mix
1 ounce hard pretzels with ½ cup fruit juice 2 cups calcium-fortified orange juice and a granola bar

Add calories to your meals using these easy ideas!

  • Use oils or margarine on vegetables, rice, and pasta, add vegan cheese.
  • Add a commercial vegan sandwich spread like Veganaise® to your sandwiches.
  • Put slices of avocado on your salad.
  • Bulk up your breakfast-cereal with fruit, nuts, and raisins.

Adding calories is fun – be creative! However, if it is becoming difficult to maintain body weight, consider talking to a registered dietitian.

In conclusion, receiving proper nutrition for the vegan athlete is easy. Eating a variety of foods and taking in more calories during times of increased exercise are important.  Teen athletes are able to receive everything they need from a vegan diet to perform at their maximum potential.

For additional information check out our Sports Nutrition for Vegetarians resource.

*Used by permission from the Vegetarian Resource Group.


Purging May Cause Throat Cancer

throat examBarrett’s esophagus is a disease usually seen in adults over 40 with GERD [gastroesophageal reflux disease] or acid reflux disease. Unfortunately Barrett’s disease significantly increases the risk of developing a deadly cancer in the esophagus. However, a teenager with the eating disorder, bulimia, may be fast forwarding the body into creating the conditions for Barrett’s by exposing the delicate cells of the esophagus to stomach acids meant for tougher intestinal cells.

Bulimia is defined as secretive excessive eating, or binge eating, followed by purging of this food  by forced vomiting. It is the vomiting that exposes the esophagus to repeated, unnatural stomach acid. Frequent  or habitual vomiting damages the cells in the esophagus, even after a relatively short time, causing the esophagus to stop reproducing esophageal cells and making intestinal cells instead.  The esophagus repair cells are actually stem cells which can create almost any cell in the body. To protect the esophagus from stomach acid the body makes intestinal cells. It is these intestinal cells in the esophogus which can open the gate for throat cancer.

Check out this article about a young woman with a short history of bulimia and how she developed throat cancer.

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