News & Views on Child Nutrition
For Parents, Educators, and Health Professionals
by Connie Evers, MS, RD
Issue 55, August 2005
UPDATED 1/2014
"Five Peas" -  free handout
Ask Connie: Nutrient Needs for active teen boys

Just for Kids: Set a S.N.A.C.K. Goal (free download)
RECIPE: Salubre Layered Mexican Dip
Sesame Workshop - Healthy Habits For Life
We Can! Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition


"Five Peas" for Raising a Veggie-Loving Child


Click here to download the "Five Peas" handout.


Ask Connie: Nutrient Needs for active teen boys

Q. Just wondering what particular nutrients in specific are necessary for active 15 year old males. How can fast food purchases be cut to a minimum?

A. Adolescent males have the highest TOTAL nutrient need of any age/gender group. Their rapidly growing bodies coupled with a high activity level increases their requirements for virtually all nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, carbohydrate, protein, fat and water. A "normally active" 15-18 year-old male needs about 20.5 Calories per pound of body weight. For a 150 pound teen, that comes to 3075 calories! If they are involved in sports or regular exercise, their needs will be even higher. For instance, during pre-season conditioning camp, the average high school football player requires roughly 26 calories per pound.

With such a high calorie need, it is much easier to get all the necessary nutrients in a day's time, simply because boys this age can eat a lot of food. It is still possible to be missing out on important nutrients though, if the diet consists of just a few types of foods. I would really encourage limiting fast food dining to a maximum of once weekly and encourage boys this age to choose salads along with their burgers.

One activity I do with teens is to have them plan balanced meals from fast food restaurants. Most restaurants now publish the nutrient content of foods served and usually post it on their corporate websites. I normally suggest the guideline of 800-1000 calories per meal (for teen males) with at least four of the five food groups represented and a goal of 27-33 grams of fat per meal. They are often surprised to learn how hard it can be to plan a meal within these guidelines! They also learn which restaurants offer the choices that they need to plan a more balanced meal.

MyPlate can serve as a guideline for healthful eating, although it's important to note that the calorie levels suggested on the MyPlate site are estimates and each individual may need more or less calories. For an active, 15 year-old male, the site suggests 3000 daily calories and the following recommended food group servings: 10 ounces grains (at least 5 should be whole grains), 4 cups of vegetables, 2.5 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk and 7ounces of protein. An additional 10 teaspoons of oil and 510 "extra" calories are included in this meal plan.

Three meals and 2-3 snacks daily are usually necessary in order to meet the high energy needs of this group.


Just for Kids: Set a S.N.A.C.K. Goal
(including a free download)

A new school year is a great time to work on improving your health habits. Maybe you want to get more active, eat more fresh fruit, watch less TV or drink fewer sweetened drinks. Whenever you want to make a change, the first thing to do is to set a goal. The best kind of goals are ones that you can meet! If you set goals that are too hard, you may end up giving up on making changes. One way to set goals that you can meet is to use the S.N.A.C.K system:

S = Small
Is this goal small enough so that I can accomplish it in a short period of time?
N = Needed
Is this a change that I need to make for better health?
A = Achievable
Can I achieve this goal? Will I need the help of others to meet this goal? Is it a goal that I can really accomplish?
C = Can I Count it?
Is this goal written in a way that I can count and measure my progress?
K = Knowledge
Do I know enough to set this health goal? Where would I find more information on this topic?

Below are some examples of S.N.A.C.K. goals:

  • Try at least two new vegetables this week.
  • Ride my bike for at least 20 minutes today.
  • Limit my television time to one hour each day this week.
  • Substitute water for soda pop at least three times this week.

A great way to check your progress in meeting goals is to use a calendar to make notes about your goals each day. You may also want to design your own system (e.g. a graph or journal) to track your goals.





RECIPE: Salubre Layered Mexican Dip

1/2 c. lowfat sour cream
1/2 cup salsa or picante sauce
2 c. vegetarian refried beans (black refried beans work well too)
2 c. shredded Romaine lettuce
1/2 c. chopped tomato
1/4 c. grated SHARP cheddar cheese
8 oz. whole corn baked tortilla chips

Mix together sour cream and picante sauce. In a clear shallow bowl, layer the ingredients, beginning with beans, then sour cream-picante mixture. Top with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Serve with baked tortilla chips. Makes 8 servings.

NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS PER SERVING (1/8 recipe): 200 calories, 8 grams protein, 3.5 grams fat



Recommended Sites

Sesame Workshop - Healthy Habits For Life
Cookie Monster, Grover, Elmo and their monster pals are all involved in helping young children learn healthy habits. Cookie monster is eating fruits and vegetables these days! Games, activities and tips for parents are featured on this website, located at

We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition)
We Can! is a national program designed as a one-stop resource for parents and caregivers interested in practical tools to help children 8-13 years old stay at a healthy weight. Tips and fun activities focus on three critical behaviors: improved food choices, increased physical activity and reduced screen time. The site is located at



The information contained in this newsletter is not intended as a substitute for medical and/or nutrition advice. See your physician and/or registered dietitian for individual health and/or dietary concerns.

©2005, ©2014 by Connie Evers, All Rights Reserved. There is a modest reprint fee for reproducing the material in this newsletter in either print or electronic publications. Please send an email to for details and rates.

Connie Evers, MS, RD, is the author of How to Teach Nutrition to Kids, the companion activity guide and a number of additional resources located at

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