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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Healthy diet for preschoolers?

    What are some healthy foods that your 4 or 5 year old children like to eat? Our twins (age 5) are still at the stage where they're picky about their vegetables.
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  • Samantha Ling

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Samantha is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD), consultant and food and nutrition enthusiast. Samantha works in a private practice on the Central Coast, NSW, Rostant … View Profile

    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
                    8 strawberries

    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.

    Good luck!

    Samantha Ling
    Rostant Nutrition
    (Find us on facebook at )

  • Charity specialises in providing nutrition and dietetic services to people with disability, children and their families. Charity is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian with over 10 … View Profile

    I agree with Samantha that the best place to look is the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Check out for heaps of great infromation including the following brochure which shows how much children should eat from each food group depending on their age and gender.

    I also agree that it's important to model the eating behaviour that you want from your children. Two of the best ways to get your children to eat their vegetables are to:

    - eat with them and eat your own vegetables

    - respect the division of responsibility at meal times. Parents provide, Child decides. This means that you as the parent decide what food to offer, where  and when to offer it (i.e you provide the food) but it is the child's responsibility to decide how much (if any) of that food to eat.

    Ellen Satter has great information about this and how it creates competent eaters over time.

    I hope this is helpful, 


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