5 Tips on Nutrition for Middle Schoolers

Shira Stern
In the contemporary world, we find ourselves inundated with a constant stream of information about eating habits, dietary choices, and meal timing. Navigating these discussions becomes even more challenging when it comes to educating middle school students about nutrition. Shira Stern (she/they), our Adventure and Wellness teacher with a background in dietetics, is here to help clear the confusion with five essential nutrition tips tailored for middle schoolers. Want to know more about Shira? Visit this link
5 Tips on Nutrition for Middle Schoolers:

  1. Eat enough. During my time as a dietitian and nutrition educator, many people (of all ages) have asked me how much they should be eating in a day, what a “balanced diet” looks like, and what the best “superfoods” are. When it comes down to it, getting enough to eat is more important than having a balanced diet, or getting enough of any single nutrient. Eating something is always better than eating nothing at all. It is especially important to eat enough during periods of rapid growth and development (for example, the middle school years)!

  2. Eat a variety/try new foods. In addition to eating enough, eating a variety of foods over the course of a meal, day, and week is a good way to ensure your nutritional needs are met. Our bodies need carbohydrates, protein, and fat, as well as vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber to function optimally. Lucky for us, humans are naturally variety-seeking beings! Most of the time, we can rely on our cravings and preferences to point us toward foods that we need more or less of to support our nutritional needs. If introducing variety to your meals feels scary, turning to trusted adults for support can be helpful. 

  3. Listen to your cues, and eat regularly. Humans are equipped with intricate systems to remind us to eat and tell us when we are full. Hormones, environmental cues, and mechanoreceptors (physical sensors) around our digestive tract can give us all the information we need to honor our body’s hunger and fullness cues. There are also many distractions (for example, social media, phones, homework, books) that get in the way of us listening to our bodies! Limiting distractions during meals and snacks can make it easier to tune into our body’s needs. 

  4. Question information about nutrition. There is a LOT of nutrition information out in the world. Some of it is backed by robust scientific research, and some of it is harmful and rooted in diet culture. The diet industry is unfortunately a thriving and powerful force that tells us we need to eat a certain way, look a certain way, and exercise a certain way to be healthy and happy. We can continue to exercise our critical thinking skills when we see nutrition information that seems a little fishy (pun intended). Question nutrition information that says we need to eat in very specific ways to achieve health. Challenge information that tells us that certain body shapes and sizes are inherently healthier than others.

  5. Move with joy. Sports and movement can be a great way to build confidence, socialize, explore, and engage with nature. There are so many benefits that come from movement! There is no right or wrong way to move, as long as we are being safe. Sometimes we might feel pressured to move in certain ways that are celebrated by society, and other times we might feel discouraged about movement. It is ok if movement brings up feelings, it is ok to say “no” or “maybe later” to movement, and it is ok to pick non-traditional forms of movement that feel right for our bodies. 
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.