12, 13 years (female)
Try to eat 3 healthy meals a day and limit the "junk" so your body can do its' best work (in school, sports, etc.). Your need for calcium increases to 3-4 servings a day (more than the Food Pyramid suggests) because your bones are soon going to be at their peak of strengthening and growth. Milk, yogurt, or calcium-fortified orange juice are good choices. Also, increase your iron (2-3 foods a day of iron-fortified cereal, meat, eggs, or green leafy vegetables).
Your eating habits now will always pay you back later, for better or worse. Many adults wish they had known to eat better when they were younger. Some illnesses could have been prevented by eating more fiber (fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals). Try not to get into habits that will be tough to break, such as eating on the run or in front of the TV. And as your life gets busier, try to eat with your family once a day.
If you are unhappy with your body's appearance or performance, take a good look at your eating and see what you could change. If you eat well, drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly, your body will naturally grow at its' own pace. If you are concerned about your size, please talk to your health care provider.
If you want your teeth and gums to be healthy your entire lifetime, take care of them now. Brush well 2-3 times a day and see your dentist 2 times a year.
Your sleep needs may increase as your growth increases. Try to go to bed earlier instead of sleeping in; getting up late can alter your normal body rhythm and make you even more tired during the day and sleepless at night. Also, try not to save all of your "think time" for bedtime — it often delays falling asleep.
Always wear your seatbelt in the car and your helmet when biking or in- line skating, even if no one else does. We see permanent, life-changing injuries resulting from simple accidents, and NO ONE thought it would happen to them.
Wear sunscreen if you are outside. A great tan is not worth cancer.
Wear your life jacket if boating or near deep water, even if you swim well.
Never take medicine (including vitamins) without knowing your dose.
Evaluate what it will take to give your body the best. Make the decision now not to smoke, take drugs, drink alcohol, or have sex. Practice what you would say if someone pressured you. It only takes one mistake to change your life forever. If you have questions about sex, HIV or AIDS, drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, please ask your mom, dad, or doctor or nurse practitioner.
Introduce your friends to your family, negotiate your curfew times reasonably, and expect that your parents will want to know where you are.
If you are in sports, make sure the playing areas are kept up well, and all protective equipment fits and is in good shape. Never share head gear.
Your friends and school activities are important, but try to participate in a "family" event at least once a week, and sit and talk with your mom or dad a little every day. You may not always agree on things (such as household jobs, curfew, or friends) but talking about your differences helps you respect and understand each other better. And remember to take some "free time" just for yourself every day.
Many girls notice the body changes of "puberty" happening now (they can start anywhere between ages 8-14). These include fast height growth, breast development, armpit and pubic hair, body odor, acne, and interest in boys. Most girls start their periods between ages 10-16 (average 12-13). In regards to acne, the best prevention and treatment is staying healthy on the inside (eating well, drinking water, getting sleep and exercise). Wash your face no more than 2 times a day with your hands and very mild soap and limit make-up.
Boys usually start puberty by ages 12-14, with their growth spurt at ages 13-16. Body changes can make people excited, nervous, or embarrassed, so respect other people's privacy. If you have questions or concerns about your health, body changes or sexuality, please talk with your mom or dad or your health care provider here. There are also many good books available on these topics.
We look forward to seeing you again for a check-up next year!