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Teen girls should eat plenty of produce for lunch.
The best -- and healthiest -- way for a teen girl to lose weight and keep it off is not to diet but to follow a balanced meal plan that is low in fat, sugar and sodium and rich in essential nutrients that will help her grow and develop. While 2,000 calories per day is a good average for most teen girls between 13 and 18 years old, your teen might need more or less depending on her growth rate and how much she exercises. Ask her doctor to help you develop meals that will help her lose weight without compromising her health.
Pile on the Veggies
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, any healthy meal, including lunch, should consist of at least 50 percent produce. Lunch for an overweight teen girl could start with a salad of 1 cup of mixed, raw leafy greens like romaine, spinach or leaf lettuce topped with 1/2 cup of her favorite fresh or cooked vegetables, such as tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers or mushrooms. She should use only a few teaspoons of a low-fat vinaigrette to keep her added fat intake below 6 teaspoons per day.
Add in Lean Protein
A typical lunch for a teen girl on a 2,000-calorie diet could include approximately 2 1/2 ounces of a lean protein mixed along with her salad greens and vegetables. A 1-ounce serving of protein is equivalent to 1/4 cup of cooked beans or tofu, 1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds, one whole egg or 1 ounce of cooked lean chicken, turkey, poultry, fish, shellfish or beef. Make sure that the protein she chooses is prepared with a low-fat method like grilling, roasting or steaming.
Pair With Whole Grains
A teen girl shouldn't avoid carbohydrate-rich grains in order to lose weight. She should have at least 3 ounces of grains per day, with half or more supplied by whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice or bulgur. A healthy lunch can easily fulfill 2 ounces of this recommendation. Have her try adding 1 ounce of cooked whole-wheat pasta shapes to her salad and pairing the meal with a whole-grain bread roll.
Don't Forget Dairy
Teen girls need plenty of calcium, and low- or nonfat dairy products are a good way for them to get enough of the mineral without adding unnecessary calories into their diet. Her lunch could incorporate 1 1/2 ounces of shredded reduced-fat cheese sprinkled on top of her salad, or she could have 1 cup of low- or nonfat milk as her beverage. If she's a vegan, a strict vegetarian or lactose-intolerant, she can choose a calcium-fortified plant milk, juice or bread or get her daily calcium from soy or dark leafy greens.
Have Fruit for Dessert
Instead of high-calorie cookies or cake, a teen girl can enjoy fresh fruit as a naturally sweet dessert along with her lunch. A typical lunch for a 2,000-calorie diet might include 1/2 cup of fruit, an amount she could supply with a 1/2-cup serving of sliced fresh fruit, 1/4 cup of dried fruit like raisins or apricots or a small piece of whole fruit. She should avoid fruit canned in heavy syrup and limit her consumption of 100 percent fruit juice, both of which contain more sugar than fresh fruit.