During the tween years, you will notice that your child is starting to change both emotionally and physically (from as young as 10 for girls and 12 for boys ). By this point, the body has already begun to release hormones responsible for the significant growth and rapid transformation that come with the onset of adolescence. For the next 2.5 years, you will notice a large appetite along with accelerated physical and emotional changes. This is an optimal time to ensure that your child is getting the best nutrition, not only to fuel the body for energy, but to help with the adjustment to a new hormonal state.
Here are some nutritional suggestions to optimise your tween’s hormonal health:
- A varied diet, rich in fresh produce and whole foods. This time of rapid growth and development increases the need for vitamins and minerals, and the best source of nutrients is from fresh produce and whole foods. The way to satisfy your tween’s appetite is with real, unprocessed foods. Having an abundance of healthy choices available for your tween to snack on will help them avoid reaching out for the processed foods that are high in sugar and low in nutrients. Fresh fruit and vegetables are your best choices, but snacks such as hummus, trail mix (nuts, seeds and dried fruit) and chia puddings contain great nutrients and are easy to prepare.
- Healthy fat, every day. Heathy fats from foods such as coconut oil, fish, olive oil, eggs and avocados can help to keep those adolescent mood-swings at bay. Not only do good fats build and help to regulate the production of sex hormones, but also help to support optimal brain function and mood. A diet too low in fat can be harmful for a child and very low body fat can even result in the late onset of puberty and delayed or absent menstruation in girls.
- Avoid refined sugars. High consumption of refined sugars is associated with a myriad of health issues. But in relation to hormones, it will often lead to a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows due to a dramatic fall and rise in insulin levels. Refined sugar consumption has been shown to alter hormonal development in pre-pubescent girls and even cause the early onset of menstruation. It is also associated with acne, which can be a great tangible point to reinforce this message with your tween.
- Increase foods rich in vitamin c and zinc. During this time of rapid growth and development, consuming sources of vitamin C (such as broccoli, strawberries and kiwi fruits) and zinc (such as grass fed meat, fish and free-range poultry) is highly beneficial. The combination of zinc and c in a supplement form can be consumed to help combat acne and breakouts; speak to your health professional about forms and doses for your tween.
- Reduce the toxic load in your tween’s food by sticking to mostly organic or chemical free produce. Some conventional produce may carry the residues of pesticides used in farming and production that contain chemicals known to disrupt hormone function and development. This is also the case for food that comes in packaging made from plastics such as bisphenol A (BPA), widely known to be a hormone disruptor.
Family Style Fish Tacos
Makes 8 small tacos
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 jalapeno pepper chopped (optional)
- 2 ½ cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- grated cheese
- Lime wedges
- ½ a small red onion finely chopped
- 3 ripe avocados, roughly mashed
- 1 large handful of fresh coriander chopped
- 1 medium tomato diced roughly chopped
- 1 lime
- 1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 450g white fish fillets, cut into strips
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp cumin
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 8 small tortillas
Prepare all of the toppings in separate containers and put to the side
Combine all the guacamole ingredients and season with sea salt and black pepper
Toss the fish strips in spices and pan fry with coconut oil until cooked through and flaky
Place all ingredients on the table
Let the family help themselves to the combination of their choice
Photo credit: @great_american_seafood