Preteens are at an age when they start to strike out on their own, and it may be difficult to keep track of what they're eating. But you still maintain the decisions of what food to keep in your home, so keep your cupboards stocked with healthy foods.
As they begin to decide on their own what they want to eat, you can teach them techniques for healthy eating, such as the following:
- Calcium is key for growing children, and it's easy to get from sources such as dairy products, leafy vegetables, salmon, broccoli and tofu.
- Watch caloric intake. Preteens are going to have drastically different calorie needs as they get older: Boys need about 1600-2400 calories and girls need about 1400-2200, depending on how active they are.
- Whole grains and brown rice are more nutritious than their white counterparts.
- Iron-rich foods are important, especially as males begin developing muscle mass and females begin menstruating.
- Drink plenty of water. Preteens need just as much water as adults.
- Ditch the junk food. You've heard this one over and over yourself, so there's no reason to have your child eating it either.
The preteen years are also riddled with growth spurts and weight changes, so be wary but non-confrontational if your child begins gaining or losing weight. However, if the weight changes become an issue, speak with him immediately regarding eating disorders or exercise.