For 25 years we have been the leading charity for children in care and young care leavers in England. Find out more here.

Food nutrition

Food nowadays is so readily available it's easy to be tempted into the fish and chip shop rather than cook your own food. But before you decide to get a takeaway, think about what kind of future you actually want.


Will this have a bad impact on my health?

Is junk food a bad habit you’ll keep forever?


Calories are the energy contained in your food. You will hear in the news all the time about people saying how many calories you should eat – but it’s important to remember that the nutrition in the 1,475 calories from a Big Mac, medium fries, chocolate milkshake, and an apple pie are very different to the 1,408 calories in four days of homemade spaghetti bolognaise.

The average teenager needs:

  • 2200 calories per day – female
  • 3000 calories per day – male

Calories aren’t the be all and end all about eating well though. You’ll notice on the front of most food coloured boxes, red, orange, and green, and these show you how much fat, sugar, salt and so on, is in the food. They’re great indicators of how much you can eat of each thing!

Our bodies use what we eat as fuel and if you take in loads more than you need then whatever you don’t use in exercise gets stored as fat – and that can lead to loads of health problems that can make your life not as good as it should be.

Everyone can have a healthy diet, there's no excuse.

So what should I be eating?

Lots of...

Eating 5 fruit and veg a day will improve energy levels, moods and digestive system as well as keeping you nicely satisfied so you don't feel that urge to grab a bag of crisps on your way home.

Starchy foods, wholegrain if possible - carbohydrates like bread, rice, potatoes and pasta are your main source of energy.

Water - 8 glasses a day will get you on your way to clear skin and shiny hair. Keeping hydrated is really important if you're trying to watch your weight too as most of the time when you feel hungry, you're actually feeling thirsty.

Some of...

Dairy products such as yoghurt, milk and cheese provide calcium for healthy teeth and bones - especially important for children and teenagers when your bones are still developing - what you do to them now will affect how strong they are in later life.

Protein found in beans, eggs, nuts, seeds and pulses, is essential for growth and repair of the body

Green vegetables are a great source of iron, essential for healthy blood.

Little of...

Fat, sugar and salt - your body needs only a small amount of this which is why there's no need to cut it out altogether but just bear it in mind when choosing what food to eat.


For most people, alcohol is a part of everyday life, but there can be a darker side to alcohol for some people. Some of us start drinking too young, while others drink too much.

If you're thinking about drinking you should know the facts about alcohol, and be prepared to meet the hangover that comes with it.

What are the effects?

Alcohol can make you feel more relaxed, chatty and confident – but ultimately alcohol is a depressant and if you’re not feeling very happy before you start drinking then you won’t afterwards.

Drinking too much can be pretty nasty. You might start to feel emotional or depressed and find it hard to control your speech and coordination. You could even be sick, lose bladder control or lose consciousness. Trying to handle room spin is an unpleasant way to finish a night out.

What are the risks?

Having the occasional drink now and then probably won't leave you with any lasting health problems. But if you find you're drinking every day and drinking more than the recommended daily allowance, you'll be doing lasting damage to your body. If you're drinking regularly, you could build up a tolerance which means you need to drink more to get the same effects. This can lead to alcohol addiction which can ruined lives.

You'll also be damaging your internal organs and putting yourself at risk of skin problems, weight gain, brain damage, and mood swings. It can even lead to alcohol poisoning which can kill, although it is fairly rare.

Alcohol can also mean your judgement isn’t always what it would be when you were sober. This can potentially lead people to think they can sexually take advantage of you. If this happens and you are not enthusiastically consenting to any sexual activity, then that is rape. Contact Rape Crisis if you feel that this has happened.

Need some more advice?

Talk to Frank: 0800 77 66 00
Advice and support about drugs and alcohol

Alcoholics Anonymous: 0845 769 7555
Advice and support about problems with alcohol

Alateen: 020 7403 0888
Support and advice for teenagers who are relatives and or friends of an alcoholic

NHS Choices: 111
Loads of information and advice on alcohol and details of addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you


There are loads of drugs out there – but that doesn’t mean you should try them.

If someone is encouraging you to take drugs then they haven’t got your best interests at heart. If you are caught in possession of drugs it could lead to you having a criminal record that could stop you doing things you may want to do in the future.

It may seem difficult to say no to drugs, but it’s easier to say no to drugs in the first place than it is to get yourself out of the trouble they can get you in.

How can drugs affect my body?

Drugs can put a massive strain on your body and give you lasting physical and emotional damage. Some of these effects, such as psychosis or cancer, won’t happen straight away – but continual drug use over many years will mean your health in the future suffers badly.

More information and support:

ADFAM National - Information and support for the people who are worried about someone they know using drugs or alcohol as well as details of local support groups.
Call: 0845 1200 660

FRANK - straight up, unbiased information about drugs
Call 0800 77 66 00 (open 24 hrs a day)

Release - advice, counselling and support on drugs and legal problems Call 020 7749 4034

Alateen - help and support for teenagers who are worried about an alcoholic friend or family member Call 020 7403 0888 (open 10am - 10pm everyday) Or email

Childline - General help and support. Call 0800 11 11

Alcoholics Anonymous - advice and support about alcohol Call 0845 769 7555 or email

Addaction - Drug and alcohol treatment agency that offers local branches and helplines.
Call 0207 251 5860 or email

Drinkline - Confidential telephone help, information and advice for anyone worried about alcohol.
Call 0800 917 8282