How To Nourish Your Growing Preteens and Teens
If we ever lose our 10yr old daughter or 12yr old son, the first place we’ll look for them is the kitchen. At any given time of the day we can be sure to find them running their beady little eyes up and down the contents of the fridge or cupboards.
They’ve never really needed encouragement to fill their cheeks to the brim, but they’re now at the age where their bodies are demanding an insatiable amount of food. HealthyChildren.org explains that a surge in appetite around the age of 10 in girls and 12 in boys foreshadows the growth spurt of puberty. That pretty much explains what’s going on over in my house.
It’s scary how much they need to eat and just how quickly they are growing, and how busy they can be, but I keep reminding myself about the enormous amount of change their bodies are going through and just how important good nutrition is to support their growth and development.
According to RaisingChildren.net.au, your teenager will need extra calcium and iron during adolescence:
“…..enough calcium will help your child to reach peak bone density and build strong bones for life … expanding blood volumes and growing muscle mass means your child needs more iron in adolescence. Girls also have extra iron needs because of their periods.”
Feeding my hungry kids can be a challenge at times, especially while trying to run two businesses on top of the endless motherly duties. On top of that, there is the added burden of dealing with the negative food influences surrounding my kids at school, sport and in their friendship circles, which become more intense as they become more autonomous and want to ‘fit in’. I see so many kids live primarily on processed sugars and starches primarily, which is a recipe for disaster for their hormonal health, not to mention their attitude and moods.
Carbohydrates are also important for growing children, especially if they are very active. Naturopath, Naomi Judge explains…
“It does depend on activity, if they fill up on carbohydrates and watch TV all day then they are most likely going to put weight on and get blood sugar problems. So lots of carbs are important plus extra sweet or white potato, rice, nuts and seeds as an extra carb source is a good idea. Dinner time is ideal for them to fill up and make sure they get all the right nutrients, that way when they sleep, bones, muscle, etc can grow and repair.”
I think the best we can do as parents is to provide as much tasty, nutrient-dense food as we can for our children when they’re at home, focusing on a good balance of mainly protein and fats (should be consumed at every meal as they are the building blocks of healthy hormones), plus some healthy carbohydrates as their body’s major energy sources.
Hence why it became my mission to create a list of delicious recipes designed to fill those ‘hollow legs’ without having to resort to a loaf of white bread at each sitting. Most importantly, they needed to be quick and easy to make for even our teens!
Which is why I’ve created my ebooks, Easy Wholefood Lunchboxes, and Real Food for Hungry Teens, which provides highly nutritious recipes specifically targeted at active, growing teenagers, and which aims to keep them coming back for more.
Using everyday foods rather than hard-to-get items, all recipes are truly a reflection of how we love to eat when at home.