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Black Catholic Young Adults

Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers

burger and fries
Article Index
What We've Seen and Heard...Black Lives Matter
The past three weeks have awakened a sleeping giant in Baltimore. For some, the incidents brought back horrible memories of a time long past.. Click for full story
We celebrate Most Reverend Fernand Cheri’s ordination
We are providing a link from you tube to the entire ordination of Bishop Fernand Cheri in New Orleans. Click for full story
Meeting Them Where They're At
As a youth minister I longed to help young men see another way. Click for full story
Now Soliciting Nominations For Participants 2015 Black Catholic Young Adult Listening Session
African American Affairs is seeking 25 Black Catholic Young Adults to help us begin to develop an approaches to effectively evangelize and cultivate leadership. Click for full story
Domestic Violence and Abuse
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. Click for full story
Empty Shell Marriages
Sociology textbooks define Empty Shell Marriages as: A marriage in name only, where a couple continues to live under the same roof but as separate individuals. Click for full story
Must See Sermon
In this Young Adult Service, the Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, a Baptist minister from Alexandria, Virginia, challenges the young and young at heart to explore their trust in God by showing how God reveals himself. Click for full story
Sunday Prayer for Teens 2014-2015
Sunday Prayer for Teens provides a great way to support a teenager’s prayer life throughout the year in a cost-effective manner. Click for full story
Dying to Self
What does it look like to be crucified with Christ? What does it mean that “I no longer live?” How do I deny myself? Click for full story
Shining her Light: Proud Young Women, Black & Yes, Catholic!
In honor of Black Catholic History Month, 13 year old Vanessa was asked by her churches BCHM Committee to share with her Parish what it means to her to be Black and Catholic. Click for full story
Vocation, a Journey to Conversion
A reflection written by Fr. Davis when he was a deacon. He was ordained to the priesthood June 2013 in New York. Click link for full story
Online Resources for Teens:
Check out the these resources for teens concerning alcohol, sex, living a pure life and more Click link for full story
Examination of Conscience
Every day we must examine our reflections and take account for the mark we have left on the world. Click link for full story
The Time has Come
On June 1, 2013, seven young men of the Josephite Fathers and Brothers religious community were ordained to the priesthood at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC in what was both a festive and holy occasion. Click link for full story
The National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) 2013
From November 21st through November 23rd, the young Catholic church of the United States will gather in Indianapolis, Indiana to play, pray, and praise as only they know how at the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). Click link for full story
The Road to Youth Ministry: Discerning God’s Call
Ministry discernment begins with a call received at baptism. This call comes from God to every baptized Christian. Some folks would like to think that God dialed the wrong number and couldn’t possibly be calling them. They are wrong. God calls all of us to mission and ministry. Click link for full story
Is Waiting Worth It?
The boundary for sex is marriage. God instructs us to wait to express our physical sexuality with another human being. He knows the power of it and knows that the best place for it to be expressed is inside of marriage. When sex happens inside of marriage it acts as a bond that keeps two people together, for life. Click link for full story
My Reflections on the National Black Catholic Congress XI
I have attended Congresses in the past as a youth. But now as a young adult, I believe I learned more from the experience. Perhaps now, as I am developing my own relationship with God, I was able to comprehend the various topics discussed in a deeper manner. Click link for full story
Reflections on Keeping Young Adults in the Catholic Church
I see the kids and teens in my own church and while they may not be on fire with their faith yet, I see that spark that will soon ignite and want so much for them to keep that spark ignited. I want them to join their church committees, be a true member. I want them to stay with their faith and profess to the world that yes we are black, we are Catholic and we are just as on fire with our faith as other Christians. Click link for full story
Words from YOUTH that attended the NBCC (National Black Catholic Congress)
Reflections from YOUTH that attended the NBCC (National Black Catholic Congress) with pictures. Click link for full story
The Princess Within: 3 Steps to Realizing Your True Identity
The attack on our feminine souls can be strong and relentless. The war on our identity can seem like a never-ending nightmare. Where can you turn to find relief? Where can you go to find the answers to who you really are? How can you begin to realize that you are beautiful and perfect, a true princess? Click link for full story
The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction
The more we learn, the better we may be able to understand the abilities and vulnerabilities of teens, and the significance of this stage for life-long mental health. Click link for full story

As you get older, you are starting to make your own decisions about many things that are important to you. You select what you wear every day, listen to music that you like, and spend time with friends that you choose. Are you also ready to take charge of decisions that affect your health?

Know How Your Body Works

Don’t do it because you’re “supposed to.” Do it to take charge!

Think of food as energy to charge up your battery for the day. Throughout the day, you use energy from the battery to think and move, so you need to eat regularly to keep powered up. This is called “energy balance” because you need to balance food (energy you take in) with activity (energy you spend).

How much energy does your body need?

You may have heard of calories, which measure the amount of energy in a food. There is no “right” number of calories that works for everyone. The number of calories you need depends on whether you are a girl or a boy, how old you are, and how active you are (which may not be the same every day).

Should you diet?

Dieting may not be wise. Many teens try to lose weight by eating very little, cutting out whole groups of foods (like “carbs”), skipping meals, and fasting. These methods can leave out important foods your body needs. In fact, unhealthy dieting may make you gain more weight because it often leads to a cycle of eating very little, then overeating or binge eating because you are hungry. This can also affect your emotions and how you grow.

Other weight-loss tactics like smoking, self-induced vomiting, or using diet pills or laxatives (medicines that help people have bowel movements) can also lead to health problems.

Eating healthy and being physically active may help you . . .

  • Do better in school
  • Have more energy for other fun times, like hanging out with your friends
  • Make friends who share your interests in dance, sports, or other activities.
  • Tone up and strengthen your muscles.
  • Improve your mood.

Charge Up with Healthy Eating

Did you know?

Just one super-sized fast food meal can have more calories than you should eat in an entire day. And when people are served more food, they eat more food-even if they don’t need it. This may lead to weight gain. When eating fast food, choose small portions or healthy fast food like a veggie wrap or salad.

Take the Portion Distortion Quiz to find out how portion sizes have changed over the last 20 years. See the Resources section for more info.

Healthy eating involves taking control of how much and what types of food you eat. This section has information to help you . . .

  • Control your food portions.
  • Charge your battery with high-energy foods.
  • Avoid pizza, candy, and fast food.
  • Stay powered up all day.

Control your food portions

A portion is the amount of one food you eat at one time. Many people eat larger portions than they need, especially when eating away from home. Ready-to-eat meals (from a restaurant, grocery store, or school event) may have larger portions than you need. Follow the tips below to control portions.

When eating away from home,

  • Order something small. Try a half-portion or healthy appetizer, like hummus (chickpea spread) with whole-wheat pitas or grilled chicken. If you order a large meal, take half of it home or split it with someone else at the table.
  • Limit the amount of fast food you eat. When you do get fast food, say “no thanks” to super-sized or value-sized options, like those that come with fries and soda.
  • Choose salad with low-fat dressing, a sandwich with mustard instead of mayo, or other meals that have fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
  • Choose grilled options, like chicken, or remove breading from fried items. Avoid meals that use the words creamy, breaded, battered, or buttered.

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Did you know?

Many teens need more of these nutrients:
Calcium builds strong bones and teeth.
Vitamin D supports bone health.
Potassium helps lower blood pressure.
Dietary fiber may help you to digest your food better and feel full.
Protein helps you grow strong and powers you up.
Iron supports your growth.

When eating at home,

  • Take one serving out of a package and eat it off a plate instead of eating straight out of a box or bag. “What do all these numbers mean?” explains where you can find serving sizes.
  • Avoid eating in front of the TV or while you are busy with other activities. It is easy to lose track of how much you are eating if you eat while doing other things.
  • Eat slowly so your brain can get the message that your stomach is full. Your brain needs about 20 minutes before it gets the message.

Charge your battery with high-energy foods

Eating healthy is not just about the amount of food you eat. You need to make sure you’re eating the types of food that charge you up. Strive to eat meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat protein, and dairy.

Fruits and Vegetables

Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Dark green, red, and orange vegetables, in particular, have high levels of the nutrients you need, such as vitamin C, calcium, and fiber. Adding spinach or romaine lettuce and tomato to your sandwich is an easy way to get more veggies in your meal.

Maintain a healthy weight

  • Try to eat less of foods like cookies and candy. If you do eat dessert, try low-fat frozen yogurt.
  • Avoid adding sugar to your food and drinks.
  • Drink water, low-fat milk, or fat-free milk, and avoid high-sugar drinks. Soda, energy drinks, and some juices are the main sources of added sugars in our diets.

Choose whole grains, like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal.

Power up with lean meats, like turkey on a sandwich, or chicken, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, tofu, and other protein-rich foods.

Build strong bones with fat-free or low-fat milk products. If you cannot digest lactose (the sugar in milk that causes some people stomach pain), choose soy or rice milk and low-fat yogurt.

Avoid pizza, candy, and fast food

You don’t have to stop eating these items, but eating less of them may help you maintain a healthy weight. Pizza, candy, fast food, and sodas have lots of added sugar, solid fats, and sodium. A healthy eating plan is low in these items.

Added Sugars

Many foods, especially fruits, are naturally sweet. Other foods, like cookies, snack cakes, and brownies, have added sugars to make them taste better. These sugars add calories but not nutrients.

Did you know?

Not all fats are unhealthy! Unsaturated fats can be healthy-as long as you don’t eat too much of them. Try eating moderate amounts of these foods, which have unsaturated fats:

  • olive, canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, and soybean oils
  • nuts like walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and pecans
  • fish like tuna, salmon, and trout

Solid Fats

Fat is important. It helps your body grow and develop; it is a source of energy; and it even keeps your skin and hair healthy. But some fats are better for you than others.

Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter, stick margarine, shortening, and lard. These fats often contain saturated and trans-fats, which are high in calories and not heart healthy. Take it easy on foods like cakes, cookies, pizza, and fries, which often have a lot of solid fat.


Your body needs a small amount of sodium (mostly found in salt). But eating too much sodium can raise your blood pressure, which is unhealthy for your heart and your body in general.

Processed foods, like those that are canned, frozen, or packaged, often have a lot of sodium. Fresh foods do not, but often cost more. If you can afford to, eat fresh foods and prepare your own low-salt meals. If you use packaged foods, check the amount of sodium listed on the Nutrition Facts label. (Read “What do all these numbers mean?”.) Rinse canned vegetables to remove excess salt.

Try to eat fewer than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This equals about one teaspoon and includes salt that is already in prepared food, as well as salt you add when cooking or eating your food.

Your doctor knows more about your specific needs, so don’t be afraid to ask her or him how much sodium you should be eating.

What do all these numbers mean?

When you read a food label, pay special attention to:

Serving Size. Check the amount of food in a serving. Do you eat more or less? The “servings per container” line tells you the number of servings in the food package.
Calories and Other Nutrients. Remember, the number of calories and other listed nutrients is for one serving only. Food packages often contain more than one serving.
Percent Daily Value. Look at how much of the recommended daily amount of a nutrient (% DV) is in one serving of food. In most cases, 5% DV or less is low and 20% DV or more is high. For example, this label shows that the food has 20% of the calcium you need to eat in one day. We can consider this food high in calcium. Notice, though, that it is also high in sodium (20%).

Snack smart

  • fresh apples, berries, or grapes
  • a handful of walnuts or almonds
  • a small bag of baby carrots
  • low-fat or fat-free yogurt
  • string cheese
  • peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers

Be media smart.

Advertisements, TV shows, the Internet, and other media can affect how you choose to eat and spend your time. Many ads try to persuade you to eat high-fat foods and sugary drinks. Others may try to sell you products, like video games. Be aware of some of the tricks ads use to pressure you:

  • An ad may show a group of teens eating a food or using a product to make you think all teens are or should be doing the same. The ad may even use phrases such as “all teens need” or “all teens are.”
  • Advertisers sometimes show famous athletes using or recommending a product because they think you will want to buy products that your favorite stars use.
  • Ads often use cartoon figures to make a food or activity look exciting and teen-friendly.

Did you know?

Teens who eat breakfast may do better in school and sports-and have healthier weights. By eating breakfast, you can increase your memory, stay focused, and feel less grouchy and restless.

Stay charged up all day

Skipping meals can lead to weight gain. Follow these tips to maintain a healthy weight:

  • Eat breakfast every day. It gets your body going. You can even grab something on the go, like a piece of fruit and a slice of whole-grain bread.
  • Pack your lunch on school days. If you pack your lunch, you can control the portions and make sure your meal is healthy.
  • Eat healthy snacks, and try not to skip meals. See the “Snack smart” ideas above.
  • Eat dinner with your family. When you eat with your family, you are more likely to eat a healthy meal, and you can take the time to catch up with each other.
  • Be involved in grocery shopping and meal planning at home. If you’re involved, you can make sure meals are healthy and taste good.

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) is a national information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). WIN provides the general public, health professionals, and the media with science-based, up-to-date, culturally relevant materials and tips. Topics include healthy eating, barriers to physical activity, portion control, and eating and physical activity myths. Publications produced by WIN are reviewed by both NIDDK scientists and outside experts. This publication was also reviewed by Joshua Kolko, M.D., La ClĂ­nica del Pueblo, Washington, D.C. Special thanks also go to the teens who helped with an earlier version of this publication.

This publication is not copyrighted. WIN encourages users of this brochure to copy and share as many copies as desired.

National Institutes of Health

NIH Publication No. 09-4328
Updated May 2012

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