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From the age of 12, one of the crucial stages in a child's life begins: the adolescence. A moment in which the rejection or attraction to certain types of food develops and, in which parents must instill certain healthy eating habits in adolescent children. Here is a complete guide on how it should be.
Adolescence is a critical period for the boy or girl, both because of the changes that occur at the physical level, and because of the way they cope and how they affect the child emotionally. Also, given its closeness to adulthood, this is our last chance to reeducate eating habits that the child accepts as their own and get them to be the most appropriate.
The physical changes that occur and the emotional state of the child can also increase the risk of suffering eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, and as parents we must be attentive to any indication that could put us on the track.
1. Goodbye to heavy meals
Encourage the child to eat frequently and avoid large meals. Reaching main meals very hungry is a very high risk for adolescents, both of obesity and of eating disorders due to guilt after excessive intake.
2. Breakfast is necessary
Sleeping is one of the favorite habits of teenagers, and that little bit more in bed sometimes means there is no time for breakfast. However, a proper breakfast with complex carbohydrates is ideal to start the day with lasting energy. Pay special attention to your child if he skips breakfast frequently, it could be a symptom of a hidden eating disorder.
3. Fruit and vegetables as snacks
Put at your fingertips a selection of healthy and varied snacks or snacks, including seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as nuts and seeds. Both fruit and nuts are easy to carry in a backpack and to eat between classes. Avoid putting those less healthy snacks within reach so as not to increase the temptation.
4. Encourage family meals
Sitting at the table to eat as a family not only ensures, according to statistics, that healthier habits are established (increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables and minimizing the consumption of alcohol and drugs), but also that there is a time when The adolescent can have conversations about their day to day with their parents, something difficult to achieve with the daily stress that we all have.
5. Don't rush him
If he is talking and the meal lingers, listen to him, and if he is slow to eat because he is thoughtful, respect his privacy. If you rush him, he'll probably eat less than he should and grab an inappropriate snack after a few hours.
6. Make sure you drink water and do not substitute it for other drinks, not even juices
Instilling the importance of water is vital, especially in adolescence, to ensure good kidney and skin health and proper muscle function. Special mention should be made of energy drinks, which pose a problem in adolescence due to their high consumption rate. These drinks are not recommended not only for their sugar content, but also for their very high content of caffeine, taurine, ginseng and other supplements that, according to studies carried out in adolescents, can result in an increase in blood pressure and tachycardia after consumption .
7. Establish - and respect - meal times
It is important for the adolescent to enter into a routine that teaches their body that food arrives at certain times, in order to avoid both inappropriate snacking and their body entering "fasting mode", favoring the accumulation of unnecessary fats.
8. Choose complete dishes
It can be a single dish or three dishes, at your choice, depending on the family routine, but all must be healthy and balanced.
9. Pay special attention to protein intake
You must try that the protein is of quality. Meat, fish, eggs or legumes are usually the main protein contributions in the adolescent's diet, ensuring that at least lunch and dinner have a good protein intake.
10. Control fats
Avoid offering foods rich in fat, since at this stage they have a great tendency to incorporate them into the diet without regard. Also avoid cooking with excessive oil, and make sure that the fats included in your diet are mono and polyunsaturated.
11. Forget about salty snacks, sweets and desserts
If you do not have them within reach, you will not eat them, at least at home. The freedom that adolescents are beginning to count on causes the consumption scale to tip dangerously towards very unhealthy foods, such as salty snacks, industrial pastries and sugary drinks, so it is better to avoid their consumption at home.
12. Don't forget the blue fish
Your omega 3 fatty acids are extremely important to the brain, and at this stage, your brain / intellectual activity is tremendous. Nuts and seeds also provide mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, hence their appeal in adolescence.
13. Calcium is vital
In this period of physical changes, growth is one of the main ones and calcium is necessary to ensure strong and healthy bones. Furthermore, calcium is involved in the secretion of certain hormones and in the health of tissues, including brain tissue. Milk and dairy products are the best source, since, in addition to calcium, they provide phosphorus and vitamin D, necessary to fix calcium to the bones, and they do so in the ideal amounts for optimal absorption. Other foods rich in calcium include green leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, green beans, or broccoli.
14. Always have yogurts in the fridge
Teenagers become lazy when it comes to choosing what to eat, always choosing the easiest and least labor-intensive. Yogurt, both eaten and drunk, is an ideal food at this stage, not only because of the amount of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D that it provides (for growth), but also because of its content in beneficial bacteria, which help repopulate microbial populations. of the gastrointestinal tract and strengthen the defenses.
15. Iron, very important for girls
With the arrival of menstruation, the loss of blood supposes a loss of iron that we must supply with an extra contribution in the diet. It is not usually necessary to supplement it artificially if enough foods of animal origin (lean red meat) are consumed or if non-heme iron (legumes, vegetables or eggs) is combined with vitamin C (oranges or tomatoes) to optimize its use.
It is common for these girls to present mild symptoms of anemia, especially if the periods are very abundant, so the diet rich in iron should not be limited only to the days when they lose blood but should become their usual diet. In more serious cases, the doctor or pediatrician will be the one to decide if it is necessary to supplement externally. Normally, male adolescents do not usually have problems with iron supply.
16. Watch out for junk food
In adolescence, children become more independent and begin to go out with friends, to eat. While it is important to encourage this independence and to make decisions - facing adulthood - it is also important to ensure that the adolescent is able to choose appropriate foods on these outings.
17. Physical exercise is essential
Outdoors whenever possible, teens should incorporate at least half to an hour of daily physical exercise into their routine. In addition, it is advisable for the adolescent to drink water both before and after physical exercise (and during prolonged and intense exercise), to ensure proper functioning of their muscles.
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