Children are constantly growing and developing teeth, bones, muscles and blood – processes which require essential nutrients to perform at their best. As children’s minds and bodies continue to develop, it’s important that they are receiving all essential nutrients in the correct proportions with meals for kids.
While in previous years experts referred to a more complex Food Pyramid to outline food group portions, authorities in nutrition have now turned to the Eatwell Plate as a proportionate nutritional guide. The Eatwell Plate for kids provides us with a visual summary of the main food groups and their recommended proportions for a healthy diet. It can also be adapted to act as an effective food plan for kids.
As children between the ages of two and five gradually start to eat the same food as the rest of their families, their portions should reflect the food group proportions on the Eatwell Plate. The size of children’s palms and fists can be used as a guide for portion sizes.
The 5 recommended food groups are:
These are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Try to ensure that your children have at least five portions of a variety of different fruit and vegetables every day.
These should be the main part of every meal as they are a great source of energy, vitamins and fibre.
Children under the age of five should have fewer high-fibre foods than adults as these can fill up their small tummies, leaving less room for the other important food groups.
Cheese, milk and yoghurt contain calcium (a healthy bone growth promoter) and other important nutrients.
It’s very important that children under the age of two have whole milk and full-fat dairy products, as opposed to lower fat dairy options, as lower fat options will not provide them with the energy they need.
If they are eating well, children over the age of two may have lower-fat dairy products and semi-skimmed milk, but skimmed milk and 1% fat milk are not suitable for children under the age of five.
Non-dairy sources of protein can include peas, beans, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
Opt for lean meat and try to include oily fish in your child’s diet at least once a week.
They should not be used to fill children’s tummies when they have refused to eat from the healthier food groups