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BunnyGenocide 04-10-2009 12:07 PM

Requesting Nutrition Advice for a Lethargic Teen
I'm in need of some nutrition advice.I'm always lethargic throughout the day and I have trouble staying focused.

I'm in high school. Female, 5'2, 110 lbs. Apple-shaped body type (unfortunately)

I don't have very good metabolism. I was 10 lbs heavier until a year and a half years ago when I started to do the Couch25k running program.

I sprinted for my school's track team from September-February. I stopped going when I started to do terribly in my classes.

This has been the gist of my daily intake (on a school day) since September 2008:

Breakfast - 1tablespoon peanut butter and jelly on one slice of wheat bread. cereal with 1% or 2% milk.
I occasionally have : yogurt, oatmeal

Lunch - salad with chicken fingers w/ ketchup and a drizzle of salad dressing/ or a cold turkey/salami sandwich + apples + baby carrots

Dinner - some white rice, a piece of chicken, broccoli/string beans/some other veggies, an egg

I eat at least one apple a day (usually 2), and some other kind of fruit. (bananas, pears, grapes etc)

Snacks: nature valley crunchy granola bars, almonds/peanuts/trail mix (on occasion)

Whatever I eat, my daily caloric intake is about 1600-1700

I looked at calorie calculators online and what I eat should have been ideal for my age/height.

Since quitting track, I haven't been eating any less at all. I may have gained a lb or 2. I still run a few times a week, but it's not as much as I ran when I was in track.

I felt more hungry during the day when I was still in track, but I never had much of an appetite.
Nowadays, it's the opposite. I feel less hungry but I have more frequent cravings. I also eat very little junk food.

I have alot of homework and bad work habits, I also have responsibilities around the house. Therefore, I have highly irregular sleep hours. I sometimes sleep for a few hours and get up in the middle of the night to finish my work. But I usually get less than 6 hrs of sleep a night. In fact, I'm lucky if I get 5.

Being tired all day, I find it hard to keep awake in my classes so my grades have been terrible all year. Even after I quit the track team, I still have this issue.

Everyone thinks I eat too little. Even my mom thinks I have ridiculous eating habits,she encourages me to eat more junk food!

I know its shallow of me but part of the reason I eat as I do is that I gain weight very easily. When I put on a lb or two I feel it immediately on my waist and my pants fit tighter. It bothers me to no end.

The other reason is that I am revolted by the fact that everyone around me eats so much junk that will probably be detrimental to their health later on. It doesn't help that my family has a history of heart/bowel problems and I don't think I will be an exception.

What do you guys think? Am I eating too little? If I fix my sleeping habits without changing my diet will it be enough?

Help please, I can't keep going on like this. =/

Thanks in advance.

tUrRrRa 04-11-2009 11:19 AM

Re: Requesting Nutrition Advice for a Lethargic Teen
I don't think you are eating too little at all. In fact, that seems like a healthy calorie range if you are trying to maintain your weight. Usually 1500-1800 is a good amount for a female not trying to lose weight. A person trying to lose weight often has to eat between 1200-1500 calories. A very active person (perhaps like when you are on the track team, playing many sports, working out for hours most days) may need more, or a growing person may need more. I wouldn't be surprised if my brother ate nearly 3,000 calories as he was a growing teenager at 6 feet tall! Some people eat in the 1800-2000 range and are fine maintaining their weight. It just depends on your body type/size and your metabolism.

Unfortunately, you might always be tired if your sleep schedule is not regular and you don't get a lot of hours of sleep. I found that I was always tired during my teen years and still today in my early 20's. I try to get about 7 hours of sleep, but usually get less around 6 or so, and honestly I think I'm the type that needs a full 8 hours. I try to catch up on my sleep on the weekends. I know it's BEST to stick with the same schedule, but fitting in a nap here and there and sleeping in when I can helps. Your sleep habits may make the most difference in how you feel. Just make sure not to oversleep either. Aim for 7-8 hours per night when at all possible. Easier said than done when you have a busy schedule though!

Your diet seems pretty healthy and you definitely don't want to eat more junk because that can actually make you more tired! Even chicken tenders and salami, which you mentioned, are very high in fat. I used to eat chicken tenders often while in school and try to only eat grilled chicken now and just treat myself to the tenders only every once in a while. At Chili's, the chicken tenders have a HUGE amount of calories. It's crazy! And enough fat for like a whole day! For lunch meat, sliced turkey, ham, chicken, and even roast beef are your best bets. Salami, pastrami, bologna, pepperoni are higher in fat. Your dinner sounds pretty healthy, but you can swap for brown rice or wild rice to make it even healthier. White rice isn't bad, but just is a bit more processed than brown. It sounds like you are getting a good mix of carbs and protein, plus your fruits and veggies. Overall, sounds like a good way to eat.

A clean diet of lots and fruits and veggies (which it looks like you do eat) and lean meats that are grilled or baked will give you more energy than fried foods and too many carbs and fatty foods. Also, try to make sure to eat whole wheat bread if you don't already. Things like white bread and sugary foods can make you tired as well. I also am a bit more naturally apple shaped but finally got my midsection slimmer after I started eating a clean diet and lots of workouts. I guess now I'm more of an athletic shape, not as curvy as an hourless or anything since I have straighter hips. Good for you for watching what you eat too! Don't get discouraged by what your family says. Hopefully they will see you being healthy and being a good example and may decide to make some changes one day. It is difficult when other people want to eat really bad foods, but don't let it affect your own health! You are not shallow at all for this and you are being smart :)

I drink one cup of coffee every morning. I don't want to have to rely on caffeine, but I feel a million times better. Coffee has antioxidants in it that are good for you too. I just add a little bit of skim milk (hey, some extra calcium!) and splenda to make it taste better to myself. Green tea is good for some caffeine as well. These options are better than sodas or energy drinks. I just limit how much caffeine I have so I don't get too hooked.

You also might want to keep up the running! If I exercise a little each day for about 5 times a week, I notice I have much more energy. Even if I'm so tired and feel I'm too tired to work out, I'll go for a little bit and I ALWAYS wake up and feel better afterwards. I don't feel as sluggish if I go to the gym often. Even just 1/2 an hour of being active can help. Just do whatever you can! You are at a healthy weight for your weight, so don't worry at all about that! I hope I've given you some ideas. Also, do you take any kind of medication? I take birth control and know that can make you feel tired practically no matter what you do. I don't want to change my pill because I don't get any other side effects and I don't know for sure if that is why I feel tired, so I just deal with it!

Torbiting 04-12-2009 11:14 AM

Re: Requesting Nutrition Advice for a Lethargic Teen
Hi BunnyG.,
I think what is important about your eating is if it is effective for you & your mental & physical health. If you feel like you are not hungry all the time, you are not wrapped up in thinking about food, avoiding activities or people to stay away from food, or at an unhealthy weight, then your eating is not a negative.
Its hard to say, because you seem very concerned with body image & a pound or two, but I don't know to what extent. I can relate to your concerns & slow metabolism + eay wt. gain! I just have developed poor eating habits, due to my body image & I gain wt. very very easy.
Is your goal to maintain your weight at this point? What types of cravings do you get, as these are often a sign of missing nutrient or food allergy? It may be a good idea to look at your family & what their set points are & what your genetics are to help determine what is natural for you, though you are an individual.
As far as being tired goes, can you describe that? I have suffered with extreme fatigue, so even though I haven't found out what is the cause of mine, I have looked into many things. One simple question is have you had your thyroid checked? Also, is there any chance that you could be depressed? I know I get tired with depression.
You mentioned bowel problems in the family. Are there any symptoms or illness you have had or your family has had or has that may seem related or even unrelated?
Also, do you know why your mom is concerned about your diet. That may seem like an obvious question, but what would she say, I am curious? Hope I didn't ask to many questions!
All The Best,

bridges67 05-11-2009 07:48 AM

Re: Requesting Nutrition Advice for a Lethargic Teen
I know how you feel. I am overweight myself, and haven't been able to seem to find my get up and go. It was hard for me to get through the day. I've gotten into ********* products, and got my friends into them as well since we are in the construction field and by lunch time everyone is always exhausted. We found that using these products have helped us have so much more energy. Some of us are actually losing weight now, we support each other, and we can actually make it through the day.

At 41 years old and a grandmother of 2 year old twins, I had to find something to help me so I wasn't going to be able to enjoy the grandkids. Believe me, if this stuff can help me, I know it can help you. I have gained so much energy from it. <removed>

Demodion 05-20-2009 04:06 AM

Re: Requesting Nutrition Advice for a Lethargic Teen
I would probably think that your lack of sleep would be a major contributor to you feeling lethargic all the time.

Another option would be to see a doctor about getting blood tests done to see if your different levels are alright. Vitamin deffeciency or low iron can cause tiredness, but if you've not felt this way before and haven't changed your diet in any significant way then I'd be partial to think that it's the lack of sleep thing.

Some people say that eight hours is ideal. In the end it's an individual thing, but 5-6 hours isn't enough. Also sleeping for 6-7 even 8 hours in each 24 hour period isn't good if you 'break it in half' so to speak. You need 6-7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

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