Eat smart and be active as you grow: Healthy tips for teen girls

Young girls, ages 10 to 19, have a lot of changes going on in their bodies. Building healthier habits will help you—now as a growing teen—and later in life.

Growing up means you are in charge of foods you eat and the time you spend being physically active every day!

Build strong bones

A good diet and regular physical activity can build strong bones throughout your life. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, cheeses, and yogurt to get the vitamin D and calcium your growing bones need. Strengthen your bones three times a week doing activities such as running, gymnastics, and skating.

Cut back on sweets

Cut back on sugary drinks. Many 12-ounce cans of soda have 10 teaspoons of sugar in them. Drink water when you are thirsty. Sipping water and cutting back on cakes, candies, and sweets helps to maintain a healthy weight.

Power up with whole grain.

Fuel your body with nutrient-packed whole-grain foods. Make sure that at least half your grain foods are whole grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat breads, and popcorn.

Choose vegetables rich in color

Brighten your plate with vegetables that are red, orange, or dark green. Try acorn squash, cherry tomatoes, or sweet potatoes. Spinach and beans also provide vitamins like folate and minerals like potassium that are essential for healthy growth.

Check Nutrition Facts labels for iron

Read Nutrition Facts labels to find foods containing iron. Most protein foods like meat, poultry, eggs, and beans have iron, and so do fortified breakfast cereals and breads.

Be a healthy role model

Encourage your friends to practice healthier habits. Share what you do to work through challenges. Keep your computer and TV time to less than 2 hours a day (unless it’s school work).

Try something new

Keep healthy eating fun by picking out new foods you’ve never tried before like lentils, mango, quinoa, or kale.

Make moving part of every event

Being active makes everyone feel good. Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Move your body often. Dancing, playing active games, walking to school with friends, swimming, and biking are only a few fun ways to be active. Also, try activities that target the muscles in your arms and legs.

Include all food groups daily

Use MyPlate as your guide to include all food groups each day. Learn more at

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Everyone has different needs

Get nutrition information based on your age, gender, height, weight, and physical activity level. Use SuperTracker to find your calorie level, choose the foods you need, and track progress toward your goals. Learn more at

Adapted from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s Web site.