At around 12 or 13, your preteen's body is gearing up for a large growth spurt, notes the Baylor College of Medicine. Because of this, your usually thin 12-year-old may suddenly complain about excess weight. What is actually a 12-year-old body's coping mechanism for growth can cause your teen embarrassment and even depression. Help your teen figure out how to get rid of belly fat by having a frank discussion about changing bodies and educating them about healthy lifestyle choices that include low-calorie, nutritious food and plenty of physical activity.
Talk to your 12-year-old about their changing body and why it is changing. If they haven't experienced puberty yet, they're likely to start noticing changes. Talk about the necessity for what may seem to them like extra weight around their belly. Affirm that you still think they are beautiful and want to help them feel better about themselves and their body by helping them adopt a diet and nutrition plan.
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Make sure your 12-year-old eats breakfast before school. Skipping meals, although it may seem like an effective diet plan, will cause your preteen's metabolism to slow over time, as it learns to burn calories more slowly to make up for the lack of food. Offer foods that are high in fiber and protein to keep them fuller on fewer calories, such as whole wheat toast with peanut butter or a breakfast burrito.
Offer healthier snacks that are low in calories but still satisfying, suggests Jane Auh, M.D., pediatrician for Camino Medical Group. Remove tempting highly processed food from the cupboards so it is no longer an option. Cheese and crackers, fruit and yogurt, or vegetables and hummus are ideal snacks that your preteen will still eat, while reducing the number of calories they consume each day.
Give your 12-year-old plenty of opportunity to be active. Sign them up for a sports team, urge them to join an active group at school or just kick around a soccer ball with them. You'll find that since the belly is where most fat collects on your preteen's body, it will be the first place that fat will melt away with healthy diet and exercise.
Concentrate on helping your preteen live a healthy lifestyle and avoid fad diets and unhealthy choices. Remember that as a 12-year-old, your child is extremely impressionable, notes Donna Fish of the Huffington Post. Avoid urging them to lose weight or limit themselves. Instead, make healthier suggestions and lead by example.