Pre-adolescents and adolescents on a diet: 10 tips from the nutritionist

Junk foods or do-it-yourself diets, zero carbohydrates or a thousand proteins: every teenager invents his own diet. Which very often does not coincide at all with that healthy and balanced diet that we mothers would like them to follow.

"Teenage nutrition is a field full of pitfalls and dangerous 'fads'" says Stefania Ruggeri in her book: "from junk foods to DIY vegan diets, from girls who want flat bellies and Barbie thighs to boys who stuffed with meat and protein to build muscle, right up to skipped breakfasts and fizzy drinks. In light of all this, how can we properly feed our kids? "
Here the Decalogue suggested by the nutritionist.

In this article


  • Don't talk about dieting with our kids
  • Engage in a physical activity that you enjoy
  • Explain the difference between reality and fiction
  • Select menus away from home
  • No to alcohol and sugary drinks
  • Never skip breakfast
  • Mid-morning snack
  • Find healthier snacks at home
  • Give preference to whole foods
  • Variety!

1. Don't talk about dieting with our children

Don't put your kids on a diet. If a boy is overweight or obese it will be appropriate for him to lose weight, but his situation must be framed by a specialist expert in adolescent problems, who will have to set up his new diet not as a 'diet', but as a healthy diet and style. of life correct. It has been seen that putting children on a diet, in the classic sense of this expression, risks, in those who are predisposed, to trigger eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia.

Not only that: recent American studies have shown that those who followed diets during adolescence have become fatter adults than those who have never done any diet, because they are at an age where energy needs are greater and for this reason it is difficult to follow a restrictive diet for a long time. And sometimes even a small disappointment in love is enough to seek consolation in food and regain all the pounds lost, walking towards a push and pull from which one never gets rid of.

Read also: My daughter sees herself as fat

2. Have a physical activity you enjoy

It is important that there is a balance between income and expenditure, that is, that a healthy diet corresponds to physical activity. Which must be chosen by the boy independently, must be fun and age-appropriate. There is no perfect sport, what matters is that it is practiced willingly, it is conceived as a leisure and a moment of playful encounter, in which to confront one's physical and mental potential. This is not the age when attending adult courses in the gym or getting exhausted between spinning, treadmill and equipment room, because sport would become a duty to be respected like school. And to be abandoned as soon as possible.

Read also: Sports for children, what is the most suitable activity

3. Explain the difference between fact and fiction

Our teenagers are bombarded with about 2000 images a day, in which they almost always see retouched photos of perfect women and men. An ideal that does not exist but that can instill in children the desire to reach an unattainable goal.

4. Select the menus away from home

As our kids get older they eat out more and more often. It is a beautiful moment of aggregation with peers and of conquering independence from the family, so it should not be forbidden, but it should be borne in mind that meals consumed in public places are generally more seasoned and fattening than a home meal. It is advisable to stay away especially from 'all you can eat' restaurants, which not only push you to overdo the quantities, but often offer food of dubious quality and zero nutritional value. Fast food yes, but not every day and learning to make a selection of what you take. Without feeling penalized with respect to friends.

Read also: Junk food: 10 strategies to get a child or young person to eat more correctly

5. No to alcohol and sugary drinks

Both provide empty calories, which bring no nutritional value. But if carbonated drinks only give the inconvenience of making you fat, alcohol is very dangerous for a teenager, because up to about 20 years of age the body is unable to synthesize alcohol dehydrogenase, which is the enzyme capable of dispose of alcohol. Drinking alcohol therefore does not simply mean making the stunt to experience a hangover, but damaging the brain and compromising the functions of the nervous system, up to cases of real acute intoxication that lead to ethyl coma.

Read also: Adolescents and alcohol: the role of parents and the school

6. Never skip breakfast

It seems obvious but there are many who skip it or limit themselves to a quick coffee or latte. The risk is that after a few hours, hungry, you rush to the bar or to the snack machines at school to eat stuff full of sugars and fats. To make breakfast tempting, it is advisable to vary the proposals, choosing between both sweet and savory foods; prepare (as far as possible) the table already from the night before so that in the morning everything is already in front of your eyes. And dedicate the time it deserves to breakfast.

7. Mid-morning snack

In the middle of the morning you need to put something in your stomach, otherwise your attention drops and your energies drop. The ideal is to bring something from home, choosing between fresh fruit, a packet of dried fruit or a yogurt. But if once in a while the kids want to take a hood and brioche with friends, so be it!

Read also: Teens: 11 tips for proper nutrition

8. Find healthier snacks at home

One of the most critical moments of the day is that of the afternoon snack, in which the boy goes in search of what happens to him to satiate the emptiness of mid-afternoon. Instead of filling the pantry with small and ultra-fat snacks, we have a fruit bowl with various colored fruits in plain sight or in the fridge we keep yogurt and some vegetable snacks already washed and ready to eat. Or let's prepare a smoothie or a fruit juicer, which is as good and sweet as industrial fruit juices, but is less caloric and contains many more vitamins and minerals.

9. Give preference to whole foods

Whole foods are more satiating, have a lower glycemic index than refined grains, keep hunger attacks at bay (which lead to gorging on food!), Are richer in nutrients and improve intestinal bacterial flora. And therefore they help reduce the risk of being overweight and obese. Bread, pasta, rice: as far as possible, choose them wholemeal.

Also read: Are whole foods really good for you?

10. Variety!

Nutrition must be experienced as something pleasant and as a continuous discovery of flavors, which is why it is important to vary every day. Ok to increase the consumption of fish, which has better fats than meat, ok to nice mixed salads with fruit and vegetables, which give color and joy and have a high satiating power, ok to legumes, rich in proteins and of fibers. But every now and then ok to a 'transgression', such as a tiramisu or a home fry. To nourish the body but also the spirit! (Read also how to manage pre-adolescence)

Questions and answers

Is it right to put preteens or teens on a diet?

Better not to put your children on a diet. If a boy is overweight or obese, his situation must be addressed by a specialist, who will have to set up his new diet as a healthy diet and a correct lifestyle.

What are the best foods for preteens and teens?

Fish, which has better fats than meat, beautiful mixed salads with fruit and vegetables, and legumes, rich in protein and fiber. But every now and then a 'transgression' (tiramisu or fried) is fine.

  • diet
  • teens
  • pre-adolescence
  • food
  • junk food
  • 6-14 children years
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