Health & Nutrition

Did You Know?

Most high school students perform sit-ups, push-ups, or other exercises at least 3 days a week.

Why do they do that? Probably because they want to stay healthy and energetic, and so they look and feel their best. Exercise, food, and the way you spend your time affect how healthy you are, how much energy you have, and whether you look and do your best.

If you had to choose what to eat right now, which would you choose?

Health & Nutrition

What do you regularly choose?

Good health is the result of the choices you make every day as part of your habits and routine, from the food you eat to the people you hang out with to the time you spend sitting on the couch watching TV. Think about the things that go into your body — food, drink, medication —  and into your mind — what you read and watch, who you listen to. These things all contribute to your health.

Why should I care about what I eat?

Your body is like a machine. Give it good fuel and it will work well. Give it bad fuel and it will break down more quickly. Your body is going through lots of changes during your teen years. As your body changes, so does your image of yourself. Feeling healthy and strong can boost your confidence and help you deal with changes and challenges.  How important is being healthy to you? Health and Nutrition.

Motivation matters

Eating right and exercising regularly is a winning combination. If you have a sport that excites you, like basketball or running, getting into healthy routines can be fun. Find an activity that you enjoy. It’s a great way to stay fit.

Exercising with a friend can make it even better. Hang out with the people who will help you be your best. A competition between friends to get stronger or run faster or eat better can help you both succeed.

Another part of good health: Healthy Mind.

As you grow up, you become more skilled in understanding emotions. You stop reacting like a kid and act like an adult. You identify what you feel, put emotions into words and deal with them. Knowing what you are feeling and why becomes more clear as you develop emotional awareness. You start to know what you need and want (or don’t want). You can build better relationships, avoid or resolve conflicts better, and move past difficult feelings more easily.

How can you become more emotionally aware? Start by just noticing your emotions as you feel them. Name them. For example, you might say, “I’m proud of myself” when you worked well with a classmate on a school project or “I’m disappointed” if you haven’t done well on a quiz. When you get angry, say so.

Remember, there are no good or bad emotions, only good and bad ways of expressing (or acting on) them. Emotions may be hard to control but your reactions to them and your actions are within your control. Understanding Your Emotions

Healthy relationships

Health and sex

Teenagers are often uncomfortable talking about sex with their parents or foster parents. Try talking with a healthcare professional, your worker or another trusted adult. Do not rely only on your peers for information about sex. Your peers may be repeating things they’ve “heard” that are untrue and can lead you to make bad choices.

Sex and love are not the same thing. Sex is only one aspect of loving someone. Love also includes mutual respect and willingness to help each other be their best.

Do you believe these myths about sex?

Everyone else is doing it.

First of all, not everyone is doing it. But more importantly, what’s OK for someone else may not be good for you. Don’t hang out with people who push, tease or bully you to do something you do not feel comfortable doing.

You can’t get pregnant if you do it only once.

You can get or make someone pregnant the first and only time you have sex. Teen mothers often have trouble finishing school and getting a job. Teen fathers have to pay child support for 18 years and can face legal problems if they fail to do so.

Having sex will keep my relationship together.

Sex may keep things going for awhile but it is a weak foundation for a long-term relationship. In fact, having sex can make a relationship more complicated and can make a weak relationship worse.

Oral sex is safe.

Oral sex will prevent pregnancy, but it will not keep you safe from sexually transmitted diseases.

If my partner wants sex, I have to do it.

If you are uncomfortable or not ready to have sex, a partner who truly cares about you will not push you to change your mind. If someone loves you, they will respect your choices.

DID YOU KNOW? The majority of sexually experienced teens (78% of females and 85% of males) used contraceptives the first time they had sex.

What should I do if I am already sexually active?

If you are sexually active, protect yourself, your partner, and your future by using a contraceptive. In Virginia, minors (those under the age of 18) are not legally required to notify or get permission from their parents to obtain birth control. Many forms of birth control are available. Some require a prescription from a doctor; others don’t. Talking with a medical professional will help you find the method that is right for you. Once you get it, use it.

The Virginia Family Planning Program offers comprehensive family planning services to assist low-income citizens plan and space their pregnancies. For more information, contact or call (804) 786-8663.

Although 15–24-year-olds represent only one-quarter of the sexually active population, they account for nearly half (9.1 million) of the 18.9 million new cases of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) each year.

Not all contraceptives prevent STDs. The pill, for example, does not prevent the transmission of disease. STDs are easily spread and can affect your overall health. If you did not get sex education class in school, ask your school counselor or your worker where you can get more information.

Local health departments in Virginia provide family planning services and offer a variety of reproductive health services including annual exams, Pap smears, STD testing and treatment, and prenatal care.

DID YOU KNOW? Sometime in their lifetime, nearly half of all women experience psychological aggression from an intimate partner. Men are also abused, by women or by other men. A substantial proportion of U.S. male adults have experienced some form of sexual violence, stalking, or intimate partner violence at least once during their lifetimes. This aggression includes both expressive aggression, such as name calling, and attempts to monitor, threaten, or control their partner’s behavior. Some psychologists consider this behavior the most harmful kind of abuse.

Am I in an abusive relationship?

If someone hits, slaps, shoves, or threatens to hurt you, you are in an abusive relationship and must talk to someone about getting out of the relationship. But you may be abused without any physical violence.

When one person tries to control, frighten, intimidate, hurt, threaten or coerce another, that is abuse. If a boyfriend or girlfriend puts you down, makes fun of your ideas or achievements, tries to control your life and makes you feel afraid, you are in an abusive relationship. Tell a reliable, responsible adult about the situation as soon as possible.

Medication rights for teens

You have a right to know what goes into your body and the right to speak up about whether you want to take a medication or not. Talk with your worker or your healthcare provider if you have any questions.

You should understand why you need this medication and how it will help you, and if it will have any side effects. Keep asking about the medication until you do understand it. If explanations are given in language that is too “medical,” ask for information that is easier to understand.

Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist the following questions before you take any medication:

  • Why do I need to take this medication?
  • What is likely to happen if I do not take this medication?
  • How long do I have to take it?
  • Do I have to go to the doctor regularly to be sure that the dosage is right, that the medicine is not causing side effects and that I still need it? (For example, some medications require that you have blood tests every three months to be sure your liver can deal with the medicine. For other medicine, the doctor may start with a small dose and gradually increase it until you feel better. This requires several visits to the doctor.)
  • Are there any special instructions I should follow?
  • What effects will the medication have on my body?
  • Does this medication react with any other substances?
  • How will I know if I am allergic to this medication? What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?
  • Will my insurance cover this medication? (Often, only a particular brand of a medicine is covered by insurance. If the brand prescribed is not, you may have to ask the doctor or pharmacist for other options.)

When it’s time to leave foster care, make sure you know what medicine you need to take, where to get it, and have a plan to pay for it. Be sure that you are taking only medications that you really need and that you have signed up for the insurance that will help you buy them.

Healthcare eligibility

Medicaid coverage is available to eligible former foster care youth who were receiving Medicaid and foster care services in any state at the time of their 18th birthday and are currently under age 26. Any young adults who were in foster care at the time of their 18th birthday can apply online at or by calling the Cover Virginia Call Center at 1-855-242-8282.

Medicaid covers many medical services, including mental health, prescriptions, case management and dental care, among many others. Covered Services for Former Foster Care Youth will give you more details about what is covered and what is not.

Do I know my own limits?

Testing your boundaries is part of being a teen. It’s also a time to find out how to read the signs when you are about to do something seriously dangerous. When you are with friends, are you able to recognize when you are being pulled in a direction you shouldn’t be going? Don’t let other push you to do things you know are harmful or that make you feel uncomfortable.

It isn’t easy to take care of yourself when you are being pushed. But it isn’t wimpy to say “no.” Saying “no” takes courage. Often, people will push you to do something uncomfortable because they know it is stupid and don’t want to be stupid alone. Be smart. Do what is best for you.

What are my next steps?

Making smart choices means knowing your options and making good choices.

  • Take a look at the healthy food guide.
  • Find a reliable adult to talk with about emotions that disturb you or make you sad.
  • Talk to your worker about your healthcare needs and medical insurance.
  • Take a good look at the people you are hanging out with. Are they helping you get ahead? If not, talk to your worker about how to find friends who will support you and help you succeed.

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