Healthy eating for teens

As a teenager, your body is going through many physical changes – changes that need to be supported by a healthy, balanced diet.   

By eating a varied and balanced diet as shown in the eatwell plate, you should be able to get all the energy and nutrients you need from the food and drink you consume, allowing your body to grow and develop properly. Some important nutrients to be aware of are:

Eating healthily doesn't have to mean giving up your favourite foods. It simply means eating a variety of foods and cutting down on food and drinks high in fat and sugar, such as sugary fizzy drinks, crisps, cakes and chocolate. These foods should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts.

If you're watching your weight, a healthy, balanced diet is the way to go. Dieting, skipping breakfast or starving yourself don't work.

Here are some tips to help you eat more healthily:

Don't skip breakfast

Skipping meals won't help you lose weight and is not good for you, because you can miss out on important nutrients. Having breakfast will help you get some of the vitamins and minerals you need for good health. Try our healthy breakfast ideas.

Get your 5 A DAY

Fruit and vegetables are good sources of many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs during your teenage years. Aim to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg a day. Find out what counts as 5 A DAY.

Healthier snack ideas

Cut down on food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt, such as sweets, chocolate bars, cakes, biscuits, sugary fizzy drinks and crisps, which are high in calories (energy). Consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain and becoming overweight. Get tips on eating less sugar, fat and salt

Stay hydrated

Aim to drink six to eight glasses of fluids a day – water and lower-fat milk are all healthy choices. Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so try to drink no more than one glass (about 150ml) of fruit juice or smoothie each day. 

Feeling tired?

If you often feel run down, you may be low on iron. Teenage girls are especially at risk because they lose iron during their period. Try to get your iron from a variety of foods. Some good sources are red meat, breakfast cereals fortified with iron, and bread. Find out more in iron deficiency.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps keep bones and teeth healthy. We get most of our vitamin D from the sun, but it is also available in some foods. Find out more about getting vitamin D.


Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium include milk and other dairy products, and leafy green vegetables. Find out more about calcium.

Fad diets

Diets that promise quick weight loss are often not nutritionally balanced, meaning you could miss out on important vitamins and minerals. They also tend to focus on short-term results, so you end up putting the weight back on. Get tips on losing weight the healthy way.

Eating disorders

Does eating make you feel anxious, guilty or upset? An eating disorder is serious and is not something you should deal with on your own. Talk about it with someone you trust. Learn more in eating disorders explained.

Page last reviewed: 02/06/2015

Next review due: 02/06/2017


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The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Eat2Health said on 06 November 2014

Please dont listen to the 2 comments below mine.

Whilst some parts of their posts may be partialy true, its in no way sensible or healthy to follow a low carbohydrate/ high fat lifestyle.

The key point the previous 2 commentators missed.... the above information is aimed a pemanent lifestyle not a diet.

No one is suggesting sugar is good for you but to over simplify metabolism and suggest all carbohydrates are sugar for the sake of a 1 sided arguement is irresponsable.
as is stating that fat wont make you fat , it contains twice as many kcals as carbohydrates and certainly can make you fat if over consumed.

Follow the above advice to maintain a healthy weigth, it may not help you lose lots of weight if your already overweight but its a long term ideal lifestyle.

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red132 said on 31 October 2014

I think that it is high time that both the government and the nhs stop lying to us about what is healthy and what is not, and that losing weight is merely a matter of choosing to eat a little less/ a little "healthier". No one like being fat. It's uncomfortable, dangerous, and makes you feel bad about yourself. Surely if it was a matter of simply choosing not to be fat, the obesity epidemic would not be taking over the UK. I cannot believe that it still says on this website that we should beware of Low Carb diets and that fat is bad for you! The body processes carbs as sugar and stores anything not burned immediately as fat. Fat, however, is slow burning, and the is not an addictive substance such as sugar (what carbs are.) and does not trigger the same brutal dopamine response. Science has disproven the cherry picked experiments of decades ago that sugegestd that high carb were good, but in order to save the money making, sugar based companies the government keeps pushing carbs! This is false information and it is ridiculous and frankly disgusting that in this day and age we think that it acceptable to lie to a whole country when we know the truth. We don't claim that smoking is good for you, so we should stop claiming that carbs are.

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Blippety said on 10 March 2014

I can't believe the NHS is still telling us to do the exact opposite of what we should be doing. We're now officially the most obese country in Europe and I definitely believe the NHS has played a major part in this.

Low carb, high fat (especially saturated fats) is the only healthy way to lose weight. Fat keeps you full, whereas carbs keep you full for a short while, before you "crash" and feel hungry again (the same goes for sugar). Carbs also stop the body burning up fat properly, which is why you get fat if you eat a high amount of fat and carbs. But limit your intake of carbs (and eat lots of fat and vegetables to keep you full instead) and you'll start losing a lot more weight than if you tried to eat less fat. Fat does not make you fat - carbs do.

Sweden started recommending a low carb, high fat diet, based on a review of 16,000 studies.

And for those who are concerned about saturated fats "raising cholesterol" - there hasn't been a single study that has proven or even given very strong evidence for there being a link between saturated fats and raised cholesterol. Not one.

Wake up Britain.

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Monica 2296 said on 29 October 2011

heyy reader

to be honest i think that healthy eatings great at my age (14) i think that it's great because it decreases the risk of having a heart disease/ a coronary heart disease or a high blood pressur to be honest neither a cholesterol level it's always bad to start off eating a lot at the age of teenagers because to be honest you may think you look big as in getting fatter so im not saying don't eat because you'll get fat all im saying is that eating heathier is better but! if you still chose to eat food with saturated fat I suggest hit the gym or run on the tredmill or do leisure activities and if not them do school activities like rounders you can be trained up for a rounders tournament etc... you may think it's boring but to be honest it'd worth it than trying it at the age of 36+ trust me my mums trying...

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