Preteen girls are undergoing major physical and mental changes as they progress into their teen years. Adolescent and teen girls require a substantial amount of nutritionally dense calories each day. The amount of growth during this period of a girl’s life is second only to infancy, according to nutritionist Jadine Kairns of TheParentReport.com. To maintain good health, preteen girls need a well-balanced diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, dairy, lean protein foods and whole grains.
Preteen girls need a balanced intake of vitamins and nutrients each day to help support their substantial amount of growth during adolescence. Vegetarianism is a healthy choice for preteen girls, as long as the proper nutrient requirements are met. Two nutrients that are especially important for preteen girls include calcium and iron, according to TheParentReport.com. Calcium is essential for building strong bones and teeth. Menstruation causes a significant amount of iron loss each month, so it’s important for girls to eat foods rich in iron, according to AskDrSears.com. Calcium can be found in dairy products and fruits, while iron is found in leafy greens, raisins and chickpeas. The American Dietetic Association supports the vegetarian lifestyle, saying it is healthy and may even help prevent future diseases in adolescents, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
MyPyramid Plan for Preteen Girls
The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, makes it easy to get a customized diet plan for preteens based on the latest science and research on healthy eating. An online tool called MyPyramid lets you input your age, sex and daily physical activity level; it then configures a personalized diet plan based on these attributes. The MyPyramid diet plan will tell preteen girls exactly how many calories they should be consuming each day, as well as which foods these calories should come from. Best of all, the MyPyramid online tool is free to use and can be used by kids and adults. There are plenty of tips, games and worksheets available at the MyPyramid website. It’s designed for kids aged six to 11 to help make eating healthy an enjoyable learning experience.
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Low Calorie Diet Free of Junk Food
One of the quickest ways to eliminate unhealthy and fattening calories from a preteen’s diet is by eliminating or reducing consumption of sugary drinks, foods and pre-packaged snacks. For instance, eliminating a daily 20 oz. bottle of soda can wipe out approximately 250 calories per day, or the equivalent of about a half pound of weight loss per week. Replace soda and sugary juices with water, 100 percent fruit juice and an occasional diet soda. A diet consisting of lower calorie food and drink choices rich in vitamins and nutrients will help preteen girls maintain a healthy weight.
Diet for Preteen Girl Athletes
Athletes need more calories each day than nonathletes. Girls who participate in sports or other physical activities need the additional energy to perform at their best. The primary food groups to focus on for optimal performance include protein, carbohydrates and fat, according to KidsHealth.org. Athletic preteen girls should eat a well-balanced diet consisting primarily of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Including small amounts of lean meat, such as chicken or turkey, will provide the added protein needed for building strong muscles. Over-consumption of any one food group is not recommended, and the same is true for cutting back on any one food group, such as going on a low-carb diet. The average sized preteen girl—12 years old; 5 ft. tall; 95 lbs.—who participates in sports should be consuming anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 nutritionally dense calories per day, according to USDA guidelines.