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Food and Fitness in Junior High

teen fitness tips
Junior High  school is a significant time for children, especially when it comes to the physiological makeup of their bodies.

Most are entering puberty and experiencing dramatic physical changes and rapid growth.

There is no time more important than this to make sure your child is getting the caloric intake to keep up with their growing bodies.While it may not be as easy to coax your child to opt for a banana rather than a bag of chips, you can still model a balanced meal plan by choosing from a variety of foods that are tasteful and satisfying, while excluding fad diets and eating intuitively.

Always keep in mind that growing bodies need good quality protein (i.e. lean meat, good dairy with limited sugar, beans, legumes and a limited amount of soy) Water is also an important part of their health. Encourage your child to drink enough water daily so that she rarely feels thirsty. A good general guideline is the 8-by-8 rule or eight 8 ounces (1.9 liters) of water a day.

Be aware and sensitive to the physical changes taking place in their your child’s body and give her praise and positive feedback to boost her self-esteem during this transitional period. Remind your child that all bodies are shaped differently; this is natural and a part of one’s genetic makeup. Fostering an environment of size acceptance and diversity in shapes also helps to promote a child’s own self acceptance and well being. Make sure they know that differences are welcomed, not feared.

Reading list

Be Healthy! It’s a Girl Thing: Food, Fitness, and Feeling Great” by Mavis Jukes

Fueling the Teen Machine” by Ellen Shanley

Eat This Not That! for Kids!: Be the Leanest, Fittest Family on the Block!” by David Zinczenko

Possible benefits

Improvement in overall health and wellness

Stronger immune system

High self-esteem and self-confidence

Reduced risk of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating)

Lower rates of depression and anxiety

Improved social interactions and relationships

Decreased risk of fad dieting

Reduced risk of substance abuse

What healthy food and fitness look like

Well-balanced meals, daily vitamins, consistent exercise and sleep.

Healthy balance, variety and moderation in food.

Recommended amounts of calcium and iron.

Moderate intake of sugars, caffeine and salt.

Choosing healthy options at school and fast-food restaurants.

What you can do

Focus on your child’s unique qualities and special gifts rather than their outward appearance.

Remind your child that it’s important to take pride in his/her physical appearance, but that deep qualities are more important.

Being accepting, supportive and providing positive messages about their child’s need to explore their identity through physical appearance.

Promote size and shape acceptance.

Talk positive about your own body and model a healthy self-image.

Involve your adolescent in planning healthy meals.

Encourage fluid/water intake.

Conversation starters

Have you noticed that you sometimes have a large appetite?

During your middle school years your body is going through many changes and needs more nutrients to fuel your growing body.

What are some signs that may indicate you are in a growth spurt?

What are some healthy choices you can make to satisfy your hunger?

Did you know that people often mistake hunger for such as anxiety, frustration, anger, sadness, boredom or even thirst?

Did you know when you pay attention and eat slowly, you can detect hunger and fullness better?

Do you know how important it is to consistently refuel your body with water? Are you aware that every system in your body depends on water?

Water flushes toxins and vital organs and carries nutrients to your cells.

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