Can you suggest a meal plan for my 11 year old son? He’s interested in health and nutrition, but I need to ensure it’s actually healthy. I am recovering from an eating disorder, and know how harmful some “health information” can be. I want to ensure this information will give him a healthy relationship with food without causing harm.
I hear your fear about ensuring your adolescent gets reputable and healthy advice. I generally shy away from recommending meal plans; they’re unrealistic to stick to, and don’t allow for personal food cravings or urges. If followed, meal plans remove self-trust and results in feeling restricted, even if there isn’t actual restriction.
Your son, and most adolescents, would likely benefit from guidelines to know how to arrange a meal or snack for himself. This allows him to choose the food he wants in a given moment, while ensuring variety to meet his nutritional requirements.
My “formula” of fun, filling, and fiber directs adolescents on what foods to combine for creating snacks that are satisfying and nourishing.
The Plate-by-Plate Approach® is “a simple, visual, approach to meal planning”. While developed for eating disorder recovery, it can be very helpful for adolescents who are just learning to independently feed themselves.
Helping your adolescent recognize their feelings of hunger and fullness is another important skill when meal planning. Knowing when he’s approaching hunger (rather than waiting until he’s super starving) can give him the space to tune into what he’s truly hungry for, and plan a satisfying meal, rather than eating reactively to whatever is available.
Meal planning is a skill that takes time to develop. Knowing what to eat, and when, can be a game changer for adolescents who want satisfying and nourishing meals and snacks. Remember that meals don’t have to perfect and there’s no ‘one-way is the best way’ to eat. This removes the rules and restriction that often comes from a strict prepared meal plan, allowing for that good relationship with all food!