During puberty, the body and mind of a teenager undergoes a drastic change. Not only there is a war of surging hormones and sudden change in their height and looks, but the teenager tries to find out more about themselves. And whatever they are taught during this time is likely to shape their outlook towards future life. They are curious, adventurous but deep inside they know they lack the experience and they have their fears too. They don't discuss about menstruation and the need of body at this changing time with anyone who can educate them; they gather wrong information from other sources and spread myths among themselves. Most teenagers constantly think and talk about it amongst their peers. Unfortunately their peers being as immature as they themselves, what goes on amongst them is only half baked truths and mostly myths.
Teenagers are vulnerable to the influences of advertising messages related to food. Most of the foods are empty calories and lack other nutrients. Breakfast is frequently neglected and omitted more often by teens. Eating first thing in the morning benefits thinking power and helps maintain a healthy body weight. They need to take a balanced diet with special attention to calcium and iron requirements. Restrained eating practices, such as avoiding milk is widely reported by teenage girls and can have a detrimental effect on bone growth.
From the age of 13-17, girls gain as much as 90% of their bone density. Teenage girls need 400 ml of milk each day which can be in the form of milkshakes, smoothies, curd, cottage cheese etc. Calcium does not come from milk alone as cheese, yoghurt / curd, drumsticks, fish, broccoli, spinach also contain calcium. A glass of milk, a bowl of yoghurt/curd, 30 gms of cheese, each have a similar amount of calcium.
Anaemia is also prevalent among adolescent girls as there is additional iron loss due to menstruation which becomes significant from 13 years onwards. Iron is found in meats, plant foods like leafy vegetables, soyabean, jaggery which should be combined with vitamin C rich foods to increase its absorption. Finally when the teenagers are better educated about their food requirements, hygiene and health, they will definitely turn into responsible and sensible adults.