A healthy diet is critical to an 11-year-old boy’s growth, as the physique of boys at this age starts to surpass that of girls the same age. Specifically, young boys’ chests and shoulders start to broaden, biceps and thighs acquire bulk and a boys’ height starts accelerating faster than that of average girls. Therefore, boys require a significant amount of nutrients to keep up with their increased energy requirements. Healthy food options are vital.
The 11-year-old boy has greater energy, fat and protein requirements compared to younger boys. As guidelines, boys age 9-13 need approximately 2,200 calories. According to the USDA, this age group requires an estimated 34 grams of protein, 1,300 milligrams of calcium, 8 milligrams of iron, and 85 grams of total fat (24 grams of saturated fat).
Carbohydrates, a significant energy source, are necessary to boys’ growth. Recommendations suggest that approximately one-third of a child’s diet should include carbohydrates. Options might include rice, pasta, sweet potatoes, bread and cereals.
Fats also provide energy, while enabling the body to make use of vitamins. Yet the amount of fat should be monitored, so as not to elevate unhealthy cholesterol levels. Limit foods such as desserts, butter, fast food and fatty meats. Healthier options include fish, nuts, lean meats and yogurt.
Another energy source, protein, can be found in adequate amounts in fish, dairy, eggs and lean meats. Young boys can have up to four servings of fish a week.
To ensure adequate intake of calcium, which strengthens the bones and maintains the teeth, encourage boys to drink milk and consume cheeses and yogurts. Other non-dairy options include dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, nuts and cereals fortified with calcium.
Appropriate intake of iron helps maintain blood and keeps children from becoming anemic, which can stunt growth and limit weight gain. Excellent choices for iron include red meat and fish, as well as beans, whole grain cereals and leafy green vegetables.
Don’t forget fruits and vegetables, which supply the 11-year-old boy with a smorgasbord of vitamins and minerals. At least five daily servings of produce are recommended. Encourage the child to eat as many colors of the garden variety as possible to boost intake of essential nutrients.
As for salt and sugar, boys should limit intake as much as possible.
One beneficial way to assist your 11-year-old in making good food choices is to take him along on your next grocery shopping trip. Explain why it’s important to read food labels, pointing out fat content, calories and nutritional value of various items in the cart.
Then, recruit him in the kitchen to help plan a health-conscious menu and then cook meals off his menu. This can help boost the youth’s self-esteem while empowering him to have choices over what type of foods he consumes. The benefits to actively participating in shopping, planning meals and cooking them can build lifelong healthy food habits.