It's important that children eat a healthy, balanced diet to provide their bodies with the energy and nutrients required to function well and feel great. That means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportion, so that over time they get all the nutrients the need stay healthy.
Everyday a child should eat a mixture of food groups and portions can be measured using their hands as follows:
- Bread, rice, potatoes and pasta - 6 to 8 clenched fist sized portions per day ( 4 portions for under 5s)
- Fruit and vegetables - 5 handful sized portions per day
- Meat, fish, eggs and beans - 2 or 3 palm sized portions per day
- Milk and dairy - index and middle finger sized portions per day
- High-fat/High sugar foods - 0 to 2 thumb sized portions per day (these are not needed)
As your child grows so will their hand and their recommended portion size.
What if I don't have the time or money to cook healthily?
Many of us find achieving the balance difficult. After a long day it can be tempting to grab the first ready meal on the supermarket shelf or reheat a microwave meal for the family. This is okay occasionally - but the nutrition labels on these foods show that many contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt, and not much fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Healthy eating can be easy and doesn't have to be expensive, here are some handy tips to healthy eating:
- The trick to achieving a good balance is to plan ahead for your meals
- Try to cook from scratch, or use a combination of some fresh and some convenience foods, more often than relying on takeaways or ready meals
- Always include vegetables and a starchy food at the main meal to provide satisfying portions without too much fat
- Write a shopping list based on your planned meals
- Build in slow cook or fast cook choices for your busy days
Be Food Smart
Do you know how much salt, sugar and saturated fat is in everyday food and drink?
The Chang4Life Be Food Smart app can help you take control of your children's diets and make healthier choices. It works by scanning the barcode of products, revealing the total sugar, saturated fat and salt inside and providing hints and tips adults plus fun food detectives activities for kids.
The Be Food Smart app is available from the
iTunes store or
Healthy Heroes recipe cards
The Healthy Heroes have shared their favourite recipes with us. Why don't you give them a try:
Change4life has more healthy recipes and information about healthy eating.