A healthy diet for children should be balanced and varied incorporating a variety of foods from different food groups to ensure they receive essential nutrients for growth and development. It is very important that children have a healthy diet and maintain physical activity.
A healthy diet for children should be balanced and varied incorporating a variety of foods from different food groups to ensure they receive essential nutrients for growth and development here are some key components:
1. Fruits and Vegetables: Aim for a rainbow of colours to ensure a variety of vitamins and minerals to encourage children to try different types of fruits and vegetables regularly.
2. Whole Grains: This includes whole grain bread pasta rice and cereals to provide fibre vitamins and minerals choose whole grains over refined grains wherever possible.
3. Protein: Incorporate lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu and nuts these provide essential amino acids for growth and repair.
4. Dairy or dairy alternatives: This includes milk yoghurt and cheese for calcium and vitamin D if your child is lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy opt for fortified alternatives like soy milk or almond milk.
5. Healthy fats: This provides sources of healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds and oily fish like salmon and trout. These fats are essential for brain development and overall health.
6. Hydration: Encourage children to drink plenty of water throughout the day, limit sugary drinks and juices opting for water as the primary beverage.
7. Limit added sugar and processed foods minimise intake of sugary snacks sodas and processed foods highly in on healthy fats and sugars opt for whole will minimalize process foods where possible.
8. Portion control: Pay attention to portion sizes appropriate for your child's age and activity level to avoid them overeating.
Remember that children's nutritional needs vary depending on the age gender activity level and individual health conditions consulting with a paediatrician or registered dietitian can provide personalised guidance for your child specific dietary needs.
Food Preparation for families
Involving children in food preparation can be both fun and educational. Here are some of the best ways to get them involved:
1. Choose meals together: Allow children to have a say in what meals to prepare let them pick out fruits, vegetables or dishes they find interesting. This can increase their excitement and willingness to participate in food preparation.
2. Assign age-appropriate task: Arrange tasks based on your child's age and ability younger children can help with simple tasks like washing produce, stirring ingredients or laying salads. Older children can help with more complex tasks like measuring, chopping vegetables or reading recipe instructions.
3. Create a safe environment: Teach children about kitchen safety and proper handling of utensils and appliances supervise them closely especially when working with knives or hot surfaces or electric appliances.
4. Nutrition education: Use cooking as an opportunity to teach children about the nutritional value of different foods and the importance of balanced eating. Discuss the benefit of different ingredients on the body.
5. Encourage tasting and trying new foods: Encourage children to taste and explore new ingredients as they prepare meals even if they are initially hesitant. Involving them in the cooking process can make them more willing to try new foods.
6. Planning regular cooking sessions: Make cooking together a regular part of your routine schedule weekly or monthly. Children can take on different roles and responsibility building their confidence and skill over time.
By involving children in food preparation, you're not only teaching them valuable life skills but also fostering a positive relationship with food and promoting healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.
For fast meal menus and recipes why not visit the Change 4 Life recipe section, where you'll find a lot of suggestions to try out as a family. It's worth cooking in bulk too because this means you will have home-made ready meals available for super quick healthy dinners. There are many stages to cooking a meal and you can get the whole family involved by dividing the cooking into different parts.
It is important to maintain regular meal times so that your child becomes used to eating at certain times around the day. There are many options for healthy snacks in between main meals including carrot sticks, nuts and fruit. Remember not to offer whole nuts to under 5
Healthy Start for children
Healthy start can provide you lots of interesting, inexpensive and simple recipes for your baby or toddler. If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk please visit https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/ for more information.
We understand that it is not possible for many parents, but try and use any opportunity to involve your children in the food shop, as this will give them an idea of where their meals are coming from and it can also spark an interest in a particular food item that they like the look of. The supermarket will open their eyes to many new products, encouraging them to try more, whilst having a hand in the decision making. Sometimes fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive; you could try frozen fruit and vegetables which have the same healthy effects and can cost less.
To increase your child’s interest and appetite for vegetables, it is a great idea to involve them in the recipe searching and shopping stages. By doing this together your child will become aware of everything that is available and can choose a preference in terms of recipe/ingredients. Your child will enjoy having a say in what your family eats, and you can make a challenge out of trying new types of food.
A similar approach can be used for fruit: take time to explore the supermarkets and talk to your child about all the different types of fruit that exist. Make it a challenge to try as many fruits as possible and listen to what your child says about each one. When they tell you what they like, you could start a game in which you could include fruit in different forms including cereal, fruit bowls or a make your own ice-lolly.
Healthy lifestyle programme in Hertfordshire
HENRY is an 8-week programme that provides healthy starts for little ones (0-5 years old). HENRY sessions support parents in creating long-term healthy habits for their family, discussing topics such as nutrition, emotional wellbeing, parenting skills and getting more active. To be eligible for HENRY, families must have a child aged 0-5 and be registered with a GP in Hertfordshire.
BeeZee Bodies Services in Hertfordshire:
BeeZee Bodies are a dedicated team of nutritionists and behaviour change experts, committed to supporting children and families in Hertfordshire to make real, long-lasting changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
BeeZee Bodies offer a range of different groups called Henry, BeeZee Familes and BeeZee Lite 1-1 services in Hertfordshire. To be eligible for a service, families must have a child aged between 5-15 years old and above their ideal weight based on the BMI centile chart (above the 91st centile). Each of their programmes strive to provide families with the information and support they need to feel empowered to make positive and informed decisions about their own health and wellbeing. Please note, there is an exemption to this criteria for the BeeZee Lite service.
For families of children with SEND please contact us even if previous eligibilty criteria do not apply.
If you are interested in finding out more information, you can contact BeeZee Bodies by telephone or email.
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Healthy Lifestyle programme in west Essex
In west Essex families have acces to support from the Healthy Lifestyles team.