Childhood Nutrition

Childhood Nutrition Ages 13-18

Amber FrazierNutrition Blog

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Welcome back to the final installment of our 4-part series on Childhood Nutrition.  We’ve previously covered childhood nutrition for newborns -1-year-old, ages 1-5, and ages 6-12. This post takes a deep dive into childhood nutrition ages 13-18.

To date, you’ve learned about the importance of various vitamins and minerals to grow an optimally health child. (And, the goal is optimal health, not ‘average’ health.)  And, we’re going to continue with this theme.

The most metabolically active growth spurt children will undergo is birth to 1 year old. However, a very close second occurs now, when they are in their teen years. With the onset of puberty, there are significant increases in height, weight, muscle and bone mass.  The brain goes through many changes and hormones and reproductive health reaches maturity, too.

To support this intensive period of growth, the total nutrient needs of teenagers are higher than at any other life stage.

Optimal Caloric Needs

Because of this, the body will need more calories now than at any other time.

  • Boys require an average of 2,800 calories per day.
  • Girls require an average of 2,200 calories per day.

This is a time when good quality protein and fats will be a must, too.

A good rule of thumb could be:

  • 40% calories from complex carbs
    • 250 gr carb
  • 30% calories from protein
    • 188 gr pro
  • 30% calories from fat
    • 84 gr fat

There are a few nutritional tips that will be very important to allow your teen children to reach their growth maturity successfully.

  1. Eliminate excess sugar
    1. This can block healthy hormone production
      • Cookies, candy, and pastries are obvious culprits, but there’s also sugar in a lot of frozen or processed foods, too. Keep in mind that you might not see the word “sugar”. You might see words like “glucose,” “fructose,” “dextrose,” and “sucrose.” These are all types of sugar that are frequently found in processed foods.
    2. Include cholesterol in your diet (Yes, you read that correctly.)
      • Cholesterol is a foundational building block, allowing the teen body to make hormones more easily.
        • Your body synthesizes hormones from cholesterol and fat that comes from the foods you eat.
        • The fats and cholesterol from animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy is particularly important. (These foods should be organic and pastured because conventional dairy has bovine growth hormone included, which can cause problems with healthy hormone production.)
    3. Get adequate Vitamin D exposure
        • Your body needs vitamin D to produce hormones, and if you’re not getting enough of it, you may have lower hormone levels as a result.
          • Unfortunately, it doesn’t occur naturally in many foods. However, you can get vitamin D through cod liver oil supplements.
        • Your body naturally produces vitamin D when you go outside in the sun, so spend some time outside whenever you can.

Though these three tips specifically mention hormone production, it’s important to understand that optimal hormone production is also necessary for healthy bone and muscle production. They all work together to allow teens to develop properly.


Healthy fats are necessary for all cellular development (every single cell in the body), making sure the following fats are added will be quite helpful:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish
  • Full-fat dairy


Healthy protein can come from the following sources:

  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Organ meat from the above-listed sources


Healthy carbs can come from:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Leafy Greens
    • Spinach, Romaine, Kale, etc
  • Berries
    • Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, etc
  • Cruciferous Vegetables
    • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Bok Choy, etc

The good news is that hearty, healthy meals that your teens will like should be pretty easy to make.

Breakfasts can consist of bacon, egg and veggie frittatas. You can look at the last Childhood Nutrition blog for an easy-to-make recipe.

Dinners can consist of pizza or avocado cheese burgers. What teen doesn’t like burgers and pizza?

The catch is – you need to make these foods at home. A traditional fast-food restaurant will not offer nutritious foods for your growing teen. But, many stores offer organic pizza crusts that can be used to create a pizza of their choosing. Additionally, there are some great sprouted, whole-grain hamburger buns that can be purchased to create an awesome avocado, bacon, cheeseburger. You’ll also be able to find organic sweet potato fries in the freezer section that can be baked to round out a burger and fries meal.

If you need additional help with creating nourishing meals for you and your teen, there are many holistic Nutrition Therapists that will be happy to guide you on your journey to improved health.


I’m providing a recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust that I’ve made too many times to count. It’s super easy to make and it’s exceptionally healthy for growing teens.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust



1 head cauliflower, stalk removed

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 eggs, lightly beaten


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone paper.

Break the cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until fine. Steam in a steamer basket and drain well. (I like to put it on a towel to get all the moisture out.) Let cool.

In a bowl, combine the cauliflower with the mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, salt, garlic powder and eggs. Transfer to the center of the baking sheet and spread into a circle, resembling a pizza crust. Bake for 20 minutes. (I like to make this on the ‘thinnish’ side, so that it’s very crispy.)

Add desired toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Best Best Best Avocado Bacon Cheeseburger


For the Burger Patties:

2/3 lb of good quality ground beef

1/16 tsp garlic powder

1/16 tsp onion powder

1/16 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce

Spicy Sweet Sriracha Sauce

This step is optional….but…dang, it’s good!!!!

2 TBSP sriracha

2 TBSP honey

1/3 cup plus 1 TBSP of mayo

Burger Toppings

2 slices thick cut butcher’s bacon

2 TBSP sriracha sauce, see above

1/2 avocado

8 – 10 leaves of baby spinach

2 slices cheese of choice – Gouda is awesome…..but so is Pepperjack


Preparing the Patties and Toppings:

Pull ground beef from fridge and allow to warm up for 10 minutes.

Preheat your grill on high.

Place the bacon in a cold skillet over medium low heat. Cook, flipping occasionally, until they reach the desired degree of doneness then drain on a paper towel.

Place the ground beef in a medium mixing bowl. Add the garlic, onion, cumin, salt, pepper, and worcestershire sauce.

Thoroughly mix the hamburger with spices. Separate into two equal sections and shape into patties that are roughly the same diameter as your burger buns and about 1″ thick.

Using your thumb, make an indention in the middle of the burger that is about one inch around and 1/4 inch deep to keep the burgers from puffing up in the middle as they cook.

Make the spicy sweet sriracha sauce by combining the sriracha, mayo, and honey in a small mixing bowl.

Cut an avocado in half and mash using a fork.

Wash the spinach and pat it dry.

Take the raw burger patties along with a clean plate for the cooked burgers, a meat thermometer, and the gouda to the grill.

The burgers are cooked over direct high heat until they reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees, which should take about 5 – 6 minutes total. If you prefer your burgers well done, allow extra time for the internal temperature to reach 155.

I came across this recipe a couple of years ago, from Renee Nicole’s Kitchen. It quickly became a favorite at our house.

Bon Appetit

Learn more about optimal nutrition for children in these related articles:

Back to School: Lunchtime

The Role of Nutrition in Children’s Mental Health


About the author: Dr. Becky Spacke, teaches holistic nutrition courses at Nutrition Therapy Institute. In addition, she has a private practice, working with people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. You can learn more by visiting

About Nutrition Therapy Institute’s Holistic Nutrition Certification

Nutrition Therapy Institute (NTI) is a leader in holistic nutrition education. Since 1999, NTI has provided students with the highest quality in nutrition training by offering comprehensive holistic nutrition courses.  Offering online and in-person nutrition course options to help students achieve thriving careers as holistic nutrition therapists.  Interested in starting our holistic nutrition courses and earning your holistic nutrition certification? Attend an informational webinar to learn more by signing up HERE.


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