Certain health tips for teens can make all the difference in your mood, weight, immune system and more. As a teen, I had no idea how to take care of myself, regardless that my parents were fantastic role models. Unfortunately, I grew up in the South where our diet wasn’t only unhealthy, but also the positive mentality about fitness and exercise was lacking back in my day. If we had a cold or flu, we popped a pill and went on with life. Later, in my adult years, I learned the best ways to take care of myself, and these are some things I wish I’d known in my teens, or paid more attention to. Consider these health tips for teens and hopefully you’ll be just a bit healthier this year if you put them into practice!
1. Avoid Refined Sugar
One of the most important health tips for teens is to avoid the food you probably love the most : refined sugar. Sugar is in EVERYTHING, and it’s one of the number one causes of diabetes, which can develop as early as your teens and even in childhood. Sugar consumption also leads to a toxic liver, causes brain fog, and it creates unhealthy eating habits. Your blood sugar peaks and crashes dramatically, which leads you to snacking more and more. Refined sugar just isn’t good for you. Choose fruit as the sugar of your choice if you need something sweet. And learn to like more healthy fats instead of sugar. They actually won’t make you gain weight, but will help tame your sweet tooth, along with give you energy, better brain health, and great skin. On the note of great skin, sugar is also one of the most main causes of acne. Once I stopped eating it, every breakout I had went away.
2. Eat Fish
I thought fish was gross in my teens, but I wish I had eaten it more. Fish is so amazing for you, especially your brain and hormones. I choose wild caught fish to avoid excess toxins, and you can easily buy the frozen plain fillets of fish at the grocery store. These are easy to cook, inexpensive, and they are there whenever you want to have them! Fish is one of the best foods to increase your energy, give you clear skin, increase brain health, decrease sugar cravings, helps you maintain lean muscle, and it’s easier on your body than red meat. Eating fish earlier in your teens can help you blossom into a healthy, beautiful adult, all with just a few bites! Choose a variety of kinds, and make sure it’s not fried!
3. Avoid Fast Food
I know you’re all probably thinking I’m crazy here, but hear me out. I lived at fast food places as a teen, and I’m sure many of you do too. It’s so easy to do, and let’s be honest: it tastes good! Yet, I promise you, fast food places are one of the worst things you can do for your health. For starters, it kind of grosses me out that strangers are handling my food in a grease pit, and secondly, fried food is fast ticket to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and high cholesterol. It’s also costly! Sure the dollar menu might seem cheap at first, but that’s only for one meal and then you’re left nutritionally deprived, but overly fed. Fast food has little to no nutrients, and it's a number one cause of acne, and many other issues teens deal with. Stop trying to diet, and just start eating real foods, not fast foods. Start playing at home in your kitchen to prepare different foods throughout the week for you and your family. You might find yourself a new hobby to love in the process!
4. Be Active
Another tip I’d advise to all teens out there, is to be active. If you’re in sports, this likely isn’t an issue for you, but if not, consider starting an exercise regimen, or perhaps joining a sports team at your school. Being active is one of the best things you can do for your weight, mood, brain health, and your heart. Make it a goal to be more active each day, and spend less time in front of your television or computer.
5. Don’t Go on a Diet
While we’re talking about being healthy, I should tell you that it’s just as important to keep a balanced approach to health, as it is consuming the right foods. Don’t go on a restrictive diet, or take up a “starving all day and binging at night” habit. It’s one of the worst things you can do for your health, and it will do you much more harm than it will good. It sets you up for an eating disorder and unhealthy eating habits, which is harder to break the longer you practice a dieting mentality.
6. Don’t Have Unprotected Sex
I hate to sing the obvious, but if you’re having unprotected sex, you’re running some serious health risks. It’s easy to forget how important this is when you really like someone, or are in the heat of the moment, but having unprotected sex is so harmful to your health. No matter how much you trust the guy, you could be exposing yourself to STDs and pregnancy, no matter what other precautions you take. The best prevention is abstinence, but if it’s too late for that, then please do not have unprotected sex. Give yourself the freedom of playing it safe and enjoying the rest of your life without worry or regrets from one single incident where you didn’t choose protection.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Another health tip I’d give to teens out there is to get enough rest! Be sure that you sleep at least 7-8 hours a night. This isn’t just for your grades, but it also helps your immune system, prevents excess stress, can reduce sugar cravings, and it will help you perform better in all your activities and in school. Staying up late on the weekends is bound to happen, but be sure you sleep in the next day if you do!
I had a fantastic teenage life, and so many wonderful memories, but if I could go back, I’d do a few things over like the ideas above. I could have had so much more energy, less acne, and not had a dieting mentality. I also would have felt so much more well rested! Do you have any health tips for teens you’d like to share?