A preteen is also known as a pre-adolescent or a tweenie. This refers to a child that is between ten and twelve years of age. Some kids this age have special nutritional needs because they are starting puberty a bit early. Some of them experience a slower appetite because they have yet to enter adolescent. Still others start growing like a weed and may eat more food than you thought imaginable.
Your child also might be short some essential nutrients due to growth spurts and hormonal changes. If you have a kid that does not seem to be eating right then consider supplementing the diet with vitamin A, fiber, folic acid, calcium, zinc and iron.
It is not unusual for a kid this age to experience craving for all kinds of different foods. If you want the child to stay healthy keep your home full of healthy options like vegetarian burritos, fruit and vegetable sticks. Do not tempt fate by keeping a lot of junk food in the refrigerator.
It is quite easy to make low fat versions of junk food favorites like a Filet-o-Fish, Fried Chicken or Tacos. All you need to do is look for these recipes on the internet. Many of them can be redone using healthy ingredients.
Many kids also like ethnic dishes, especially Chinese food, Mexican food and Indian food. These are healthy cuisines. Make your own version of popular dishes like chicken chow mein, quesadillas and vegetable curry and leave the extra salt and MSG out. Greek food is also very healthy for a child to eat because it is cooked with olives and olive oil. These contain fatty omega3 acids that are very good for brain development.
One way to encourage a child around this age to eat well is to appeal to his or her vanity. They are just starting to notice the opposite sex and want to look attractive. You need to describe how eating vegetables will make them have beautiful shiny hair, create healthy skin or cause them to grow taller. There is nothing like a bit of self-interest to make a child choose a salad over a bag of Fritos. This is also a good way to encourage a child to remember to take his or her vitamins.
Above all it is important for you to set a good example by eating a healthy diet yourself. Do not take a 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude.