What Should a Teen Girl Eat in a Day?

by Kathryn Walsh

    Teenage girls should eat around 1800 calories a day, but eating the same things each day isn't healthy. For a balanced diet, teen girls should eat a variety of foods every day. Girls should eat foods from all food groups each day and limit their intake of fat. No more than 35 percent of the calories a teenager eats in a day should come from fat.

    Protein

    Protein is essential for a growing teen because it helps build and maintain the tissues of the body. According to the American Heart Association, girls between the ages of 14 and 18 should eat 5 oz. of protein a day. One egg or 1 tbsp of peanut butter equals 1 oz.of protein, according to PBS Kids. A meat entree typically contains more protein. For instance, a small chicken breast or hamburger provides about 3 oz.

    Grains

    To a teenager, the idea of eating grains may call to mind images of the bran cereal that Grandma eats, but the grain food group includes bread, rice and pasta, too. A teenage girl should eat about 6 oz. of grains a day, and half of those should be whole grains. A cup of cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked pasta or rice provides one oz. of grains.Try to limit your teen's consumption of grains to no more than 6 oz. a day, because grains are filling. Overloading on them doesn't leave room for protein, fruits and vegetables.

    Fruits and Vegetables

    Some teens avoid fruits and vegetables like the plague, but the nutrients in produce make them an essential part of any diet. Teenage girls should aim to eat at least 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2-1/2 cups of vegetables per day, although she can eat as many vegetables as she likes. A whole apple, orange or banana is equal to about 1 cup. Juice doesn't count toward a serving of fruit unless it's made with 100 percent fruit juice. If your teen is a picky eater, offer creamy dips with fresh fruits and vegetables.

    Dairy

    The dairy food group includes milk and milk products like cheese. Teenagers should eat about 3 cups of dairy foods per day. One and a half oz. of cheese -- a piece about the size of two dominoes -- is equivalent to 1 cup of dairy. Any type of cow's milk will suit the dairy requirements, but low-fat milk is the healthiest choice. A girl could satisfy this requirement by drinking 1 cup of milk at each meal. If your teen turns her nose up at milk, keep buttermilk and individual serving sizes of cottage cheese, yogurt and frozen custard in the fridge.

    About the Author

    Kathryn Walsh started writing in 2005. Her work has appeared in "The Syracuse Post-Standard" and on various websites. She has over 15 years of experience working with children, two as a preschool teacher. Walsh received a dual Master of Arts in journalism and television and film from Syracuse University. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Rochester.

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