Being healthy means many different things for teen girls. Building good habits of diet and exercise is important, and so is having good hygiene. Being healthy also means having a positive mental attitude, and making safe decisions about your body and behaviors. Be healthy to feel confident, look great, and take care of your body!
Building Healthy Habits
Choose healthy foods. Your food is your fuel for your body and brain, so pick good fuel! Minimize eating food with lots of sugar, salt, and fat – stay away from fast food, fried food, junk food from the snack aisle like potato chips, canned and processed food, and pastries. Amp up your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy, and low-fat protein like fish, chicken, nuts, beans, peas, and lentils. Choose healthy snacks like fruit, a handful of nuts, some celery, or a piece of low-fat cheese. If you don’t know how to start to eat healthy, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist. They can help you create a plan that gets you all your needed vitamins, minerals, and calories. You can also check out online resources like this one for some guidance.
Have good eating habits. Other than what you eat, how you eat can help you stay healthy and fit.
- Don’t skip breakfast, which provides your body with its first fuel of the day and helps you concentrate. Good breakfast foods include fruit, eggs, low-fat milk, cream of wheat, oatmeal, or whole grain toast.
- Pack your lunch for school so you can create a healthy meal for yourself.
- Be involved in shopping and meal planning at home. You can even help the rest of your family to eat healthy!
- Your doctor can tell you if you are in a healthy weight range or not. If your doctor advises you to lose weight, control your portion size, i.e. how much you eat at one time. Use a smaller plate or bowl, keep a food journal so you can track your servings, and fill most of your plate with fruits and vegetables.
- Be sure to get enough calories! The average teen girl should eat 1,600 to 1,800 calories a day if you’re not very active and 2,200 to 2,400 calories a day if you’re physically active.
- Avoid fad and crash diets. You will easily regain any weight you lose, and these are not good for your body. Always talk to your doctor before dieting, or if you have concerns about your weight.
Maintain a healthy weight. Rather than worrying about your weight, think about your Body Mass Index, or BMI. This calculation judges whether you’re a healthy weight for your age and height. You can use this calculator to find out your BMI.
- A healthy teen BMI falls between the 5th and 85th percentiles – under 5th is underweight, 85th-95th is overweight, and over 95th percentile is considered obese. Check your percentile here.
Drink at least 7 glasses of water every day. Keeping your body hydrated will help regulate your metabolism and purify your body. Drink at least 7 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated.
- Carry a water bottle with you and sip on water throughout the day. Be sure to drink water whenever you’re thirsty.
- Drink more water if it’s hot out or you’re being active.
- Your pee should be light yellow in color.
- Boost your water’s flavor with slices of lemon, lime, or fresh fruit!
Sleep 8-10 hours every night. Getting enough sleep improves your attention, focus, and mood. You might not be getting enough sleep if it’s hard to get up in the morning, you fall asleep in class, you can’t concentrate well, or you feel moody or depressed. Try to get more sleep by:
- Setting a regular bedtime for yourself.
- Exercising regularly (but not within 3 hours of bedtime so it doesn’t keep you up).
- Avoiding caffeine after 4pm.
- Relaxing before bed with a warm bath or reading.
- Not napping too much during the day.
- Avoiding all-nighters, which throw off your sleep schedule.
- Having good sleep hygiene: keep your lights low at bedtime to signal to your brain it’s time to sleep, keep your room cool and dark overnight, and wake up with bright lights.
Exercise at least three to five times per week. Exercise improves your energy, helps you feel good, and reduces stress. Try to work up a sweat for at least 20-30 minutes, preferably up to an hour. Aerobic exercises – the ones that get your heart pumping and breathing rate up, like running and swimming – are good for your heart and overall health. You can also do specific workouts to target areas of your body, like to get strong abs or legs.
- If you think going to the gym is boring, try creative ways to work out. Go for a bike ride or a challenging hike, join a fitness club, take your dog for a walk, or join a sports team.
- Use a Wii Fit or a Wii Fit U for indoors activity!
- Jog in place or do squats while watching TV.
Have good posture. Having good posture can improve self-esteem – you can literally walk tall! Maintaining healthy posture also minimizes strain on your muscles. There are many exercises that can help.
Protect your skin from sunburns. You might feel like tanning gives you a healthy glow, but sun damage is really bad for skin – it can cause wrinkles and skin cancer. Always wear broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher when you go outside, and maybe 30 or higher on your face which gets tons of sun.
- Many moisturizing lotions also contain SPF 15 sunscreen. This can be an easy way to keep your skin soft and safe.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or after sweating or swimming.
- Wear sunglasses when it’s sunny to protect your eyes from UV light, and the sensitive skin around your eyes.
- No one should ever use tanning beds because they increase your risk of skin cancer. Using tanning beds during adolescence also increases your risk of developing melanoma later in life, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Tanning sprays and lotions are generally safe, but keep it out of your mouth and eyes.
- Avoid going out into the sun when it is at its brightest, which is usually between 10am and 4pm.