I had a very good question from a reader. What can I do to help my 12 year old lose weight??
First off, remember that body changes are happening in girls, ages 11 through 15. For boys the changes start between 12 and 13 and actually don’t stop until boys reach age 19. So, what does that mean?
During these growth spurt times, approximately 20 percent of adult height and 50 percent of body weight are gained. So naturally, your children are going to be gaining weight.
This is also the time NOT to start body shaming your kids. I know, I heard it from my own family. My parents said things like, you’re not fat, you’re pleasing plump, or you’re just big-boned. Yeah, that helps!! Of course siblings on the other hand just come right out and call you FAT and to ADD a little extra zing….fat and UGLY!! I remember crying and locking myself in my room at family get togethers. To tell you the truth, up until just a few short years ago, I truly believed I should be walking around with a bag over my head to hide my ugliness from the world!!
Body shaming at this age can lead to all sorts of complications like, depression, anorexia, bulimia, and low self-esteem. It can also cause the child to feel unwanted which leads them back to eating for comfort, which in turn, makes them gain more weight.
What is a parent to do? For one thing, be supportive!! Tell your child that this is natural. Their body is changing and preparing for adulthood.
The main thing to do as a parent is to load up on foods your child needs like protein, calcium based foods, fiber, and foods high in vitamins C and A and for girls make sure they get some extra iron. Adolescents need 4 glass of milk or equivalent (cheese, yogurt) a day. 4 ounces of lean meats, fish, or 2 eggs with yolks at meals for protein and iron. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, yellow vegetables and leafy dark greens for the A and C. Don’t forget to get whole grain and enriched breads and cereals.
Since Tweens and Teens are always on the run you might want to send them with things like, small packs of nuts or sunflower seeds, fresh fruit, individual packaged, unsweetened cereals, mini muffins or bagels, yogurt, popcorn or oatmeal raisin cookies (as long as they only eat a couple and not a whole dozen!). Make sure to steer away from chips, cookies, candies, and soft drinks. Also, be very cautious when it comes to nutrition bars. Read the labels!!! A lot of those bars are loaded with sugar and CALORIES. One nutrition bar can have more calories than a candy bar!
Also, try to get your children away from the video games, cell phones, tablets and TV. Remember the days of jumping rope? Try to make exercise family time. I’m sure if you work at a desk all day you will enjoy the benefits of a family game of soccer, football or basketball or a walk or jog around the block. A half hour to an hour a day would help burn those calories. Not to mention, clear their minds, help them sleep, and put them in a better mood!!
Remember, be supportive!! Don’t sit in the house and tell your child to go out and get exercise while you sit and watch TV eating potato chips!! Children learn habits from their parents. Be your child’s super hero! I guarantee, it will help bring the whole family closer.
Take care 🙂