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Healthy Meals & Snacks for Teens

Eat healthy to look and feel better!

Eating healthy foods will...

  • Help keep your weight in check.
  • Keep you awake and focused in school.
  • Help you do your best at sports.

Take it easy on pizza, sweets, and sodas!

They have lots of sugar, salt, and fat.

  • Limit cakes, cookies, and other foods made with shortening, butter, and margarine.
  • Choose water or fat-free or low-fat milk instead of sugary soda or juice drinks.
  • Eat more foods like bananas, beans, and yogurt for potassium to help build strong bones.

Give your body the right fuel!

  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Power up with lean meats, chicken, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, tofu, and other protein-rich foods.
  • Build strong bones with fat-free or low-fat milk products for calcium and vitamin D.
  • Choose whole grains, like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal, for half of your grain servings.

Snack smart on these!

  • Fresh apples, berries, or grapes
  • A handful of walnuts or almonds
  • A small bag of mini-carrots
  • Low-fat or fat-free yogurt
  • String cheese
  • Peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers

Take control!

One fast food meal can have more calories, fat, and sugar than you need for the whole day.

  • Avoid "value-sized" or "super-sized meals."
  • Share your meal or take half home when eating out.
  • Choose whole-wheat bread, lean meats, and fresh fruit at the school cafeteria
A pile of Almonds

Start strong and plan ahead!

Busy schedules can make it hard to eat smart. Planning ahead can help.

  • Jump-start your day with breakfast. It will help you do better in school.
  • Bagit! Pack a healthy lunch, like a lean turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread and an apple.
  • Snack smart by packing your own high-power nibbles for school or time with friends.

Get the facts!

Weight-control Information Network

Check out https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/communication-programs/win and our short booklet for teens: Take Charge of Your Health! A Guide for Teenagers! Join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NIDDKgov/.

April 2019

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Carla Miller, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Ohio State University for reviewing this fact sheet.