Syracuse Area Health – Strasburger Orthopaedics

10 Things Your Teen Athlete Should Have on Their Plate

Is your teen eating right for growing bones and joints? Find out how to give them every nutrient they need in meals they’ll love. These combinations of amazing nutritional power foods can help them enhance their performance on the field and feel great the rest of the time.


100% juice can provide tons of nutrients – so give your teen plenty of options, starting with an 8 oz glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with breakfast as a way to kick-start their day with antioxidants, folic acid, and plenty of vitamin C.  If they don’t have to worry about caloric consumption, another glass can be added later in the day for an energy boost. 

Green veggies

Kale, broccoli, spinach, and other greens may not be your child’s favorite, but they can be added to a teen’s diet by pureeing and adding to lasagna, spaghetti, or other red-sauced Italian pasta dishes. The iron and calcium absorption will be boosted by the presence of tomatoes, meat, and peppers. 

Brightly colored fruits

Your teen can benefit from fruits high in vitamins C, E, A, and potassium, such as citrus fruits, as well as berries, which are also high in antioxidants. You can boost their immune system and keep them in shape all year. 


Legumes are a great addition to other protein sources, and can give your teen the fiber, protein, iron, zinc and magnesium they need to grow strong and healthy. They can be added discreetly to Mexican food, salads, casseroles, soups, stews, and pasta dishes for an extra healthy bump.


Calcium, vitamin D, potassium and protein as well as healthy probiotics make yogurt a must have for any teen athlete. Top with granola or fresh fruit, or blend with frozen berries for a cool icy snack that is perfect after a long day in the field. 


If you are looking for the power snack your kid needs when they’ve got a long day of training, steer them to nuts– they’ll be getting healthy fats, protein, fiber, magnesium and vitamin E. Peanuts, almonds or cashews are great if there are no nut allergy concerns on the team. 


If there’s a nut allergy issue – or even if there isn’t — try sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, instead. Most seeds can also be turned into a healthy butter to spread on celery sticks or rice cakes. You can also sprinkle chia seeds, flaxseeds, or sesame seeds on top of salads or over yogurt. 


Consider breaking from red meaty and serving fish instead, for healthy oils and vitamins that will improve sight and hearing – both important for active young bodies in high powered situations like contact sports. Cook with a crusty seasoned breading and serve in a hoagie to tempt choosy palates.

These foods can help your teen feel fit and strong on and off the sports field or track. You can consult with Dr. Strasburger about your teen athlete’s nutritional needs for a more tailored diet plan.