9 in every 10 teenagers fall short of the daily recommended intake of fruits and veggies.

The teen years have an increased nutritional need compared to childhood, as the body is still growing and changing, but it’s doing so more rapidly – meaning you need more energy.

Sure, youth usually means you can power through missing breakfast or not getting enough sleep, but when you’re running low on the nutrients that provide necessary energy, it can affect your mood, and over time, your mental well-being.

Putting a little more thought into your meals now can save you a lot of moodiness and mopiness later on, so it’s well worth the effort.

Increase Your Variety

Given that many young adults do more snacking than meal-eating, it can be easy to get stuck in a snack rut. The occasional bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is OK, but if you’re having them often, you might find yourself feeling sluggish.

High carb snacks usually result in a sugar crash; this is when a high dose of carbs (or sugar) causes your blood glucose levels to drop, resulting in – you guessed it – tiredness and irritability. Switch up your snack game by trying other varieties that are whole-food based and lower in sugar and carbs. Hard-boiled eggs, tuna salad lettuce wraps and string cheese are all good options that are low in carbs and high in protein to keep your energy steady. For something a little sweet, berries are a good low-carb option too.

If you’re feeling indecisive or you’re just too busy to do much shopping, check out bundled selections of snacks and food items to simplify the process. Subscription boxes offer plenty of variety that you can customize to your liking and dietary needs, with vegan and vegetarian options, and even snacks from other countries available. This way, you’ll get several kinds of food items at once – less planning and shopping; more snacking.

Incorporate More Fruit And Veg

Another easy way to increase your nutrition, and thus your well-being, is to boost your intake of vegetables and fruit.

This probably sounds more difficult than it actually is; you don’t need to learn to whip up complex side dishes. Just opt for swapping your usual side dish for one that offers a healthy serving or two of veggies, and toss in some fruit with dessert. Not only will you be getting vitamins that you need, but studies have also shown an association between raw fruit and veg and decreased risk for mental health issues like depression.

Check out drive-thru options, like side salads, fruit cups, and fruit and yogurt. The store deli and prepared food sections have a ton of options, like fruit, individual fruit platters, veggie platters, gourmet salads (not your usual mix of lettuce and carrots), veggie sushi rolls, and more.

Add In A Vitamin

Of course, sometimes you just can’t get enough of a particular vitamin or mineral through your diet – no one is perfect!

Some nutrients like vitamin D, B12, and folate aren’t abundant in most foods, which makes getting enough of them difficult. Deficiencies in folate and vitamin D specifically have been associated with an increase in depression and other mental health disorders, so clearly they’re important. Consider adding some supplementation with a concentration on these vitamins to ensure you get enough of them.

By and large, improving nutrition is really a marathon, not a sprint. In other words, don’t overwhelm yourself with an entire lifestyle overhaul. Make small changes, and in time, these small changes will accumulate to much bigger results.

Written by Jackie Edwards