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Fueling the Teen Machine

Fueling the Teen Machine

by Ellen Shanley, Colleen Thompson

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You need to know what it takes to make good personal choices about your nutrition and to find healthy (and tasty) foods. You may be overwhelmed with the confusing, contradictory information you hear about important topics like diet, exercise, and eating healthy. Friends, parents, teachers, websites, and doctors all have ideas to offer, but it really comes down to


You need to know what it takes to make good personal choices about your nutrition and to find healthy (and tasty) foods. You may be overwhelmed with the confusing, contradictory information you hear about important topics like diet, exercise, and eating healthy. Friends, parents, teachers, websites, and doctors all have ideas to offer, but it really comes down to you. You can gain your own understanding of what you need to do for your body as you grow into adulthood if you have a solid grounding in facts about foods, diet, vitamins, and exercise.

To meet your unique and personal needs, Fueling the Teen Machine will teach you the basics about what you need to know. From the website MyPyramid.gov to health-related terms and definitions that you will encounter along the way, this book is the ultimate guide to navigating the world of nutrition and health and figuring out how to keep your body healthy, strong, and happy.

In Fueling the Teen Machine, all the topics that you hear about every day are discussed and thoroughly explained - topics like weight management, sports nutrition, eating disorders, vegetarianism, fast foods and more.

Product Details

Bull Publishing Company
Publication date:
Edition description:
Second edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Fueling the Teen Machine

By Ellen L. Shanley, Colleen Thompson

Bull Publishing Company

Copyright © 2011 Bull Publishing Company
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-936693-03-0


The Basics

The teenage years are a busy time. You've got school, homework, after-school activities, things to do with friends and family, chores around the house, maybe even a job. Whew. With all there is to do, it's hard to find time to pay attention to what you eat. Yet, the one way to juggle all those responsibilities is to have enough energy to do them all (or at least as many as you want to.). How do you get that energy? Eat.

You're probably thinking, "Eat? That's easy. I already do that." You're right. It can be easy — if you have the right information to help you make choices. Eating is really all about choices. Nowadays there are so many choices that it can be hard to know where to start. The supermarkets seem to showcase new products every day. The labels use terms such as "lite," "lean," "low-fat," "nonfat," "organic," and "low-carb." The stores are full of new books on nutrition, the latest diets, supplements, sports nutrition, and a host of other topics. There's the Internet and infomercials for health and nutrition products. How can you sort through all the information out there and make any sense of it for yourself and for what you need? We're going to help you do that. The best place to start is with some basic nutrition guidance. The best source for that is the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Every five years or so, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services issue the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The latest guidelines were issued in 2005. Their mission is "to provide positive, simple and consistent messages to help consumers achieve healthy, active lifestyles." The guidelines are general in nature, allowing consumers (that includes you) choice and flexibility when it comes to their diet. As of this book going to press, the 2010 guidelines were not released. We do know that the emphasis will be similar to that in the 2005 guidelines, including whole grains, increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and balancing food intake with physical activity.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 provide "science-based advice to promote health and to reduce risk for major chronic diseases through diet and physical activity." Unfortunately, the major causes of sickness and even death in the United States today are related to a poor diet and being physically inactive. These diseases include heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. In addition, poor diet and physical inactivity cause an energy imbalance. This means that we are eating more calories than we are using. This can cause overweight and obesity. So the newest Dietary Guidelines emphasize eating the right amount of calories and getting plenty of physical activity. For detailed information on the Dietary Guidelines you can visit the website at www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/. Below is a summary of the guidelines and key recommendations.


Key Recommendations

• Eat a variety of foods and beverages from all of the food groups.

• Choose foods that are lower in fat, saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and salt. Use "MyPyramid" to help you choose a balanced diet that has enough calories and nutrients from all of the food groups.


Key Recommendations

• To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance the calories that you eat from food and beverages with the calories that you use being active.

• To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase your physical activity.


Key Recommendations

• Get plenty of physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.

• Your physical activity should include some cardiovascular activity, such as running, playing basketball or soccer, or any activity that gets your heart rate going. Add some stretching for flexibility and resistance or strength exercises for muscle and bone strength and endurance.

• Teens should aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.


Key Recommendations

• Eat enough fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day are a good start for someone eating about 2,000 calories each day.

• Try to vary the fruits and vegetables that you eat each day. Choose from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.

• Eat at least three or more 1-ounce equivalents of whole-grain products per day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole- grain products. In general, at least half of the grains should come from whole grains (more information on whole grains in Chapter 2).

• Eat or drink at least 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products, such as cheese or yogurt.


Key Recommendations

• Eat less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acids in your diet as low as possible.

• Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of healthy fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

• For children and teens aged 4--18, the recommendation is 25--35% of calories from fat.

• When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.

• Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.


Key Recommendations

• Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often.

• Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners.

• Reduce your incidence of cavities by practicing good oral hygiene and eating sugar- and starch- containing foods and beverages less frequently.


Key Recommendations

• Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day.

• Choose and prepare foods with little salt. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.


Key Recommendations

• To avoid microbial foodborne illness, do the following:

- Clean hands, food contact surfaces, and fruits and vegetables. Meat and poultry should not be washed or rinsed.

- Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing foods.

- Cook foods to a safe temperature to kill microorganisms.

- Chill (refrigerate) perishable food promptly and defrost foods properly.

- Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs, raw or undercooked meat and poultry, unpasteurized juices, and raw sprouts.


The Dietary Guidelines are pretty general in nature, as you can see. To get more specific information on what and how much to eat, you can check out MyPyramid. The pyramid is a way to put the Dietary Guidelines into practice. What is neat about the pyramid is that it is designed to be personalized. In other words, one size does not fit all. You may need a different amount of calories and different number of servings of fruits and vegetables than your best friend. After all, no two people are exactly alike, right?

MyPyramid offers personalized eating plans and interactive tools to help you plan and assess your food choices based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. You'll need to use the Internet to personalize your pyramid: go to www.mypyramid.gov. Once you're there, you can click on "Personalize MyPyramid" plan. Enter your gender, height, weight, and activity level. Then your personalized plan is created. You can even listen to podcasts, plan a healthy menu, and look up foods and play games.

So let's look more closely at this pyramid. You can see from Figure 1.1 (see the color insert immediately following page 40) that the pyramid has several colored striped sections. Each section is a different size, and each section represents a different food group. Let's take a quick look at each food group and talk about what is most important to know about each of these groups.


The biggest section of the pyramid is the orange section for grains. The advice for grains is pretty simple: Eat at least 3 ounces of wholegrain bread, cereals, rice or pasta every day.

Look for the word "whole" before the grain name on the list of ingredients on the food label (see Chapter 12 to learn more about the food label). Why are whole grains better? Whole grains have more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than simple or processed grains. The fiber in whole grains helps make you feel full and eat less. When choosing bread, look for "whole grain" on the label. We talk more about grains in Chapter 2, Finding Your Fuel.


The next section of the pyramid is the green section for vegetables. The advice for vegetables is "vary your vegetables." You should try to eat plenty of vegetables every day and choose different vegetables as much as possible. The more color there is in your vegetables, especially dark green and orange, the better they are for you.

• Eat more dark green veggies (such as spinach, broccoli, and kale)

• Eat more orange veggies (such as carrots and sweet potatoes)

• Eat more beans and peas; they have lots of fiber.


The red section of the pyramid is for the fruit group. Focus on fruit. Eat lots of fruit every day, and, just as with the vegetables, try to eat different varieties of fruit. Go easy on the fruit juice and focus on whole fruits. You'll get more fiber that way and less sugar. Oranges, apples, and bananas are great, but why not try to include more blueberries, strawberries, and cantaloupe, too. Nowadays, there are many exotic fruits available year-round right in your local supermarket. Try a mango or a kiwi for something new.

Milk and Milk Products

The blue section of the pyramid is for the milk group. Teens are still growing, and their bones are still growing, too. The calcium and vitamin D in milk and milk products really help you build and keep your bones strong and healthy. You need to drink plenty of milk every day, at least 3 cups. Low-fat and skim milk are just fine and taste great. You can choose low-fat yogurt, cheeses, and ice cream as well.

Meat and Beans

The purple strip on the pyramid is for meat and beans. Choose lean cuts of meat, poultry, and fish. Bake, broil, and grill your meat to keep it lean and tasty. Nuts and beans fall into this group, too. Almonds, peanuts, and cashews make a great snack that is packed with protein. Just watch the portion size, because it is easy to eat more than you need.

Fats and Oils

The thin yellow strip on the pyramid represents the group from which you need the least amount each day — fats and oils. Everyone needs a little bit of fat for the essential fatty acids. But some fats are better for you than others (see Chapter 2, Finding Your Fuel). Choose healthier fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, and the oil in nuts and fish. Solid fats from butter, margarine, and fatty meats are less healthy and should be limited in your diet.

Discretionary Calories

Finally, the pyramid refers to something called "discretionary calories." These are food choices that are "extras" in the diet, including sweets, desserts, fried foods, sweetened drinks such as soda, etc. These foods can be part of your diet, but they need to be consumed in limited amounts. That's because they don't really give you much in the way of vitamins, minerals, or fiber. They mostly just give you extra calories — that you may not need. It's all about choices. Make your choices count.

Be sure to visit the MyPyramid website to find out more about your personalized pyramid plan (for some quick info, check out Table 1.1). There are also lots of interactive tools, games, and menu planners there. You can have fun and learn a little something at the same time.

Mind you, no one can be perfect when it comes to eating. Who needs to be? All foods can certainly fit into a healthy diet. It's really about choices and portions of foods. You needn't deprive yourself of any one food. Just go easy on some things that don't have a lot of nutrient value — such as candy, chips, and soda — and fill up on those things that do have a lot of nutrient value, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Now let's look at a sample day of eating that models the recommendations of the pyramid.


¾ cup orange juice
1 cup cheerios (they are whole grain)
½ cup low-fat milk


Turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise on 2 slices whole-wheat bread
½ cup carrot sticks
1 cup yogurt with 1 cup fresh blueberries


1 ounce string cheese with 6 crackers; 1 apple; ½ cup nuts


3 ounces grilled chicken
1 cup broccoli
½ cup rice
1 dinner roll with 1 teaspoon butter or margarine

This daily menu meets all the recommendations of the pyramid. You can add some "discretionary calories" if you like, by adding some baked chips with lunch and ice cream for dessert.

Dietary Reference Intakes

Between the Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid, you have the basic tools you need to plan a healthy diet. However, you might be wondering exactly how much of each nutrient you need in your overall diet. The Dietary Reference Intakes or DRIs (there's an acronym for just about everything.) provide information on amounts of nutrients required in a healthy diet. The DRIs take into consideration more individual factors, such as age, gender, and whether or not a person is pregnant or breastfeeding. You can review the DRIs at the website for the Food and Nutrition Information Center.


There's an app for this. Check out the apps for your phone or mp3 player on the mypyramid.gov website. They are free to download and give some great tips on the food guide pyramid, exercise, and other healthy options for teens.


Find Your Fuel

In Chapter 1, we said that your body gets its "fuel," or energy, from 1 food. Let's spend a little time looking at the different sources of energy in the diet and how each source contributes to your nutritional health.

Energy for your body comes from calories in food. Basically, there are three food components that provide energy in the form of calories: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. You need all three of these components to stay healthy. Each one gives you different vitamins and minerals as well as other important nutrients.


Your body's main source of energy (or calories) comes from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are easily used by the body for energy, can be stored in the muscles for exercise, and provide lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Each gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories. You need from 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbohydrate. The source of the carbohydrate is important. The best sources of carbohydrate from the pyramid are the grain group and fruits and vegetables. That is why they have the larger-sized strips on the pyramid; most of your carbohydrates should be from these groups. However, many Americans are getting too much carbohydrate from their "discretionary calories," especially from added sugars and sweetened beverages. Research is showing that a diet that is high in simple sugars may be linked with increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Carbohydrates are definitely not all the same. Some are healthier than others. Let's look at the different kinds of carbohydrate.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are simple sugar units that your body can easily and quickly use for energy. Some simple carbohydrates are sugars, candies, sweetened gum, sweetened sodas, cookies, and cake.

Many foods have natural sources of sugar. For example, an apple or a glass of orange juice has the natural fruit sugar, fructose. Milk products contain the natural milk sugar, lactose. Natural sugars are not the sugars that you need to limit in your diet. Rather, it is added sugar that you need to be aware of. Excess intake of sugary foods has been linked with increased incidence of dental cavities. In addition, too much sugar can take the place of more nutritious foods in your diet. The best way to figure out if a food has sugar added is to look at the list of ingredients on the food label. Look for terms such as sucrose, corn syrup, and so on. When you see any of the following terms on a food label, it usually means that sugar has been added:

Maple syrup
High-fructose corn syrup
Brown sugar
Confectioner's sugar
(powdered sugar)
Corn syrup
Raw sugar
Fruit juice concentrate
Invert sugar

Teens get a lot of added sugar from beverages. Take a look at the beverages listed in Table 2.1. Which beverage provides the most nutrition for the calories?


Excerpted from Fueling the Teen Machine by Ellen L. Shanley, Colleen Thompson. Copyright © 2011 Bull Publishing Company. Excerpted by permission of Bull Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Ellen Shanley is a faculty member in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut. She teaches courses in food-system management and directs a program in dietetics. She lives in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Colleen Thompson is a registered dietician and manages the Team Nutrition Training Grant in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Connecticut. She lives in Wallingford, Connecticut. They are the coauthors of Overcoming Childhood Obesity.

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