Healthy eating is important for growing African teenagers and their brains!  Eating a balanced diet also contributes to managing moods and emotions and getting a good night’s sleep. Whilst healthy eating may seem out of reach for some of the young women we work with, you don’t have a choice about what they eat at home or school, or much money they have for food, sometimes there are simple swaps that can be made within the same budget. 

What does a balanced diet consist of? Discuss the list below with your mentee. How can she work towards this?

The WHO recommends we consider: 

  • Eat a variety of foods from different food groups every day. Include whole or unprocessed starchy foods as part of meals.
  • Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, red and yellow vegetables and fruits daily; and include a variety of other vegetables and fruit.
  • Eat beans, peas, lentils, cowpeas, pigeon peas, soya, nuts and edible seeds regularly (at least four times a week).
  • Eat lean meat, local cheese, fish and seafood, poultry, insects or eggs at least twice a week.
  • If you are not lactose intolerant, drink fresh milk, fermented milk or yoghurt every day.
  • Use oil or fat in moderation in meals; limit the amount of solid fat. Use fortified oil.
  • If you use sugar and bouillon cubes (like Maggi), use them sparingly.
  • Use iodised salt, but use it sparingly.
  • Limit sugary drinks.
  • Drink plenty of safe water.

Food-based dietary guidelines – Kenya (

Food-based dietary guidelines – South Africa (

Food-based dietary guidelines – Nigeria (

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