Generally, children aged aged 4-7 years old should be eating from all of the core food groups to ensure they get all the nutrients they need in order to grow and develop properly. These include:
Breads/Cereals/Rice/Noodles aim for 5 serves per day
1 serve = 2 slices of bread
1 bread roll (medium)
1 cup of breakfast cereal or porridge
1 cup of cooked rice or noodles
Vegetables and Legumes (eg. baked beans, chickpeas etc) aim for 2 serves per day
1 serve = 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1 cup salad
1 medium potato
Fruit aim for 1 serve per day
1 serve = 1 apple, banana, peach, pear, orange etc
2 kiwi fruit, mandarins or plums
Milk/Milk Alternatives aim for 2 serves per day
1 serve = 250ml glass of milk, soymilk or ricemilk
1 cup yoghurt
2 slices of cheese
Meat/Meat Alternatives aim for 1/2 a serve per day
1/2 serve = 1 egg
30-50g meat, cooked
1/4 cup mince etc
(For more information visit the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia for guidelines on children's nutritional intake)
The most important thing to remember with children when trying to implement healthier options is to be a role model yourself.
Children are like sponges and will generally copy anything they see others doing. Be patient - children learn to like foods they are familar with.
Try getting your little ones involved in the kitchen - children are more likely to try and eat something they have helped prepare. This might mean letting your little ones pick a vegetable at the supermarket that is going to be prepared for dinner, letting them wash vegetables before you peel them/cut them up, growing your own vegetables etc.
Make healthy foods fun - You could try using vegetables as wedges and dipping them in a dipping sauce, mash, grate or puree vegetables into mince dishes, if your child likes mashed potato add pumpkin, peas, sweet potato etc to make it different colours. Chop fruit up and make fruit skewers rather than serving whole pieces of fruit.
Keep trying different vegetables and fruit - what they don't like this week they might like next month! An Accredited Practicing Dietitian can sit down with you and run through many ideas and strategies to implementing a healthier diet for your children.
(Find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/RostantNutrition )
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