A Healthy Diet For Kids

healthy diet

Eating well can help kids maintain a healthy weight, improve their mood and learn better in school. It also helps lower their risk of certain diseases in later life. The key to a healthy diet is to include a variety of foods from each of the five food groups, in appropriate amounts.

Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins and low fat dairy should all be a part of every meal and snack. It’s best to fill half of each plate with these nutrient dense foods, but even a quarter of the plate can provide plenty of benefits.

A balanced diet should be low in saturated and trans fats and contain unsaturated fats, which are mostly found in plant sources such as vegetable oils and spreads, nut butters/pastes, oily fish and avocado. It should also be low in salt and high in fibre.

Swap salty, fatty snacks such as chips or cookies for dried fruit, hummus, nuts, seeds and yogurt (low fat and low sugar options). If your child has a nut allergy, try sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or chia seeds which are all good plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Include a range of protein-rich foods including eggs, fish, chicken, tofu and lean meats. For vegetarians, there are a number of plant-based options such as beans and peas, soy products, quinoa and hulled barley. It’s also important to include a wide variety of fruits (2 or more servings per day) and vegetables and to choose unprocessed or minimally processed grains.

Limit the amount of sugary snacks, chocolate and sweetened drinks your children eat. These should be ‘discretionary choices’ and eaten in small quantities.

Mealtimes are a great time to encourage your kids to try new foods. You can do this by cooking a dish with different ingredients or by letting your child pick a vegetable to add to their main meal such as cauliflower in place of mashed potato or broccoli on top of steak or chicken.

It’s important to avoid eating while watching TV or on the computer as this can lead to overeating and poor food choices. Eat meals together as often as possible and make it a priority to eat slowly and enjoy the food that you are eating.

If you do eat out, consider splitting a dish or choosing healthier options such as grilled chicken, fish and salad. Avoid fried foods and opt for steamed, baked or stir-fried dishes instead. When eating at home, use smaller plates or bowls so your child can be reminded of the portion size they are supposed to be eating. Remember that a serving of meat, poultry or fish should be about the size of a deck of cards and a cup of cooked rice, pasta or potatoes is about a half of a large bowl. Also try to cut back on the salt in your recipes at home by reading food labels and removing sauces, dressings and seasonings that are high in salt.