Healthy eating for teens is extremely essential to meet the high energy demands of this stage. The nutrients that adolescents consume can influence their height and growth, and in turn impact the later years of life. Read on for a better insight into teenagers’ diet and the foods that should be a part of their meals to reach optimum goals!

Why do adolescents require more energy and nutrients?

Adolescence is a period of transition and a crucial stage when habits are formed that are carried on well into adult life. Healthy eating for teens is an essential practice as adolescents need more nutrients than adults - they gain at least 40% of their adult weight and 15% of their adult height during this period. Insufficient intake of energy and nutrients to sustain the demand of a rapid growth spurt can lead to delayed sexual development, and slower linear growth and may also impact cognitive growth. Good habits among teenagers, such as exercise and a healthy diet, are likely to bring many benefits, including improved performance in school. Besides, a healthy teenager’s diet can prevent noncommunicable diseases later in life.

Foods that increase height in teenagers

Although height relies primarily on genetic and hereditary factors, there are a few foods in a teenager’s diet that can play a role in influencing and maintaining height.

  1. Protein-rich foods such as eggs and beans: Protein is indispensable in healthy food for teenagers given its vital role in the optimum functioning of all our cells. It is also linked with positive height gain as it can influence levels of a certain growth factor in our body related to increase in height in both boys and girls. Thus, good sources of protein such as eggs, beans, soybean, and meat may be considered as repositories of teenager food to grow taller.
  2. Dairy: The protein obtained from milk has a powerful association with height. A factor in milk is known to have growth-promoting action in girls.
  3. Animal-based food such as liver, beef, fish, and dairy: These foods are all good sources of Vitamin B12, which is a vitamin that our body cannot make and must be consumed from the diet, primarily the non-vegetarian sources. Vitamin B12 can significantly increase height in underweight children as well as those children who are stunted due to being malnourished. These foods can contribute to linear growth and shouldn't be skipped, as an inadequate Vit B12 status contributes to poor growth.
  4. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and lettuce: These leafy greens are rich in Vitamin K, an important nutrient in maintaining bone health. Bone is an active tissue that undergoes constant remodelling throughout life, and maintaining the strength of bones can positively influence height.
  5. Vitamin E-rich foods such as almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds: Various seeds and nuts such as almonds which are rich sources of Vit E may be considered teenager food to grow taller. The reason is, stunting and anaemia are quite common in malnourished children, which may correlate to the deficiency of several nutritional factors, including vitamin E. Moreover, vitamin E is especially found to be a key missing nutrient in children who are stunted. Dishes such as Ragi Seeds Laddoo and Oats Peanut Poha may be beneficial in bridging the gap in a teenager’s diet.

Food for weight gain and energy

A weight gain diet for teenagers must comprise the following foods:

  1. Milk: Whole milk has balanced amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fats that can fuel the growth needs of adolescents, provide energy and help maintain skeletal muscle mass. Milk-based health drinks for teenagers include Multigrain Nut Milk Porridge and shakes like Banana Dates Milkshake.
  2. Sweet potatoes and starchy veggies: The energy in plants is stored in the form of starch, and when consumed, it can boost the energy stores of adolescents too. What’s more, sweet potatoes are also good sources of vitamin A and vitamin C, making them a part of healthy meals for teens. Sweet potato can be consumed in the form of a main course - Sweet Potato Mint Sabudana Khichadi or as a salad.
  3. Nuts: They serve as a concentrated source of energy and healthy fats that are an indispensable part of a weight gain diet for teenagers. Nuts aren’t just wholesome sources of calories, but also provide essential nutrients like protein, calcium, and iron that work together to meet the growing requirements of adolescents. They can be had directly or in the form of snacks like Walnut Oatmeal Jaggery Ladoo and Sevai Katori Rabri.
  4. Dried fruits: Unlike their fresh counterparts, dried fruits like figs, raisins, and dried berries are a powerhouse of energy and should be a part of all teenagers' diet. It is a calorie-loaded snack and a diet for healthy eating for teens would be incomplete without them. It is studied that dried fruits can contribute to healthy weight gain in adolescents and also manage their lipid levels and decrease abdominal obesity.


During the momentous years of adolescence, teenagers should be encouraged to reach their optimum height and maintain their energy reserves with the help of right nutrition. While hereditary and genetic factors influence height, it must also be noted that the skeletal tissues are continuously remodelling, and by altering teenagers’ diet to meet their growth requirements, several positive curves can be achieved. Including physical exercise as part of lifestyle may also help, and recommended guidelines state that adolescents must engage in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week. Likewise, just as there is a need to include exercise and teen food to grow taller, several energy-boosting foods must also be equally incorporated to fuel the growth milestones of this stage.