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Tween Nutritional Requirements


You cannot know how much your tween needs to eat on any given day because growth patterns differ tremendously from child to child and from one day to the next. While some tweens grow in a slow-but-steady fashion, others alternate between long lulls and dramatic spurts. If you think your child has grown overnight, you may be right. Tweens can stretch by as much as half an inch in twenty-four hours.


It is not recommended that you try to shore up your child's diet with vitamins unless a doctor recommends them. The best route to getting enough vitamins, nutritionists agree, is by eating a variety of healthful foods.

Tweens gain an average of 6.5 pounds and grow more than two inches a year between ages eight and thirteen. Substantial central nervous system development takes place, resulting in improved coordination, balance, dexterity, agility, and speed. Their sexual organs mature as well, transforming them from little children to biological adults. To support such massive physical development requires the right fuel. Even though getting your tween to eat a well-balanced diet isn't easy, it is possible.

Dietary Guidelines

Dietary guidelines can't help you determine how much food your tween needs to consume at any given point in time, and you shouldn't try to figure it out. Allow him to eat as much as he wants at meals or even in between, but limit the selection of available foods and ensure that they are all healthy choices. The only way to do that is to be careful about what you bring home from the grocery store. There may be no other way to control a child who is at home alone, and a rebellious tween may do what he pleases even when you are there.

The following guidelines are for children up to age eleven. Older children will need a bit more in each category. To calculate your child's weight in

  • Calories: About 70 calories per kg total; 55 percent from carbohydrates, 15 percent from protein, and 30 percent from fats (of the calories from fat, less than 10 percent should be from saturated fat).
  • Carbohydrates: Five or more servings per day; each serving equals 1 cup of potatoes, pasta, or rice; 2 slices whole grain bread, ¾ cup dry cereal, ¾ muffin or bagel.
  • Fruits: Two to three servings per day; each serving equals 1 cup canned fruit, 1 piece fresh fruit, ½ cup juice.
  • Protein: One gram per kg or about three or more servings per day; each serving equals 2 to 3 ounces meat, fish, or poultry; 1 egg; ½ cup cottage or ricotta cheese; 1 to 2 ounces of other types of cheese; ½ cup cooked dried beans or legumes; 3 tablespoons peanut butter.
  • Vegetables: Two to three servings of cooked or raw vegetables per day; one serving equals ½ cup of vegetables.
  • Fats: One to three servings per day of oil, margarine, butter, or salad dressing; one serving equals 1 tablespoon.
  • Sweets: Four to five servings per week maximum; one serving equals ½ cup ice cream, ½ cup pudding, 1/8 pie, 1 large cookie.

In addition, your child should consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day and drink plenty of water, so watch the egg yolks and turn on the tap!

From The Everything Tween Book Copyright © 2003, F+W Publications, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.


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