How to make my child eat some veggies? How do I tell my child to avoid junk food? Chocolate is all my child wants to eat! Sounds familiar? Well, we need to to develop a healthy eating plan for our kids which is essential for their growth, physical as well as mental.
School age is the perfect time for children to learn and develop healthy eating habits. Children need a healthy diet if they are to develop into healthy adults with healthy weight. Focus on feeding your children foods that are rich in nutrients such as whole-wheat products, cereals, fruits, vegetables and milk with moderate portions of meat, fats and added sugar depending on the physical activity they have in a day. This is the time when they start a busy social life, have pocket money and begin to help choose their own lifestyle. Children of this age learn quickly and are also influenced by their friends and popular trends and in doing so, often ignore a healthy diet.
Breakfast is important
It is important to encourage breakfast. A good night’s sleep followed by food in the morning helps your child to stay active and concentrate at school. It also means your child is less likely to be too hungry during the morning and it can help with performance at school. Be a role model and let your child see you eat breakfast too. A bowl of cereal with milk and fresh or stewed fruit is a great starter for the whole family.
Many schools have a canteen that offers a range of food choices. The food your child chooses might be high in cost and energy, but low in nutrients sometimes. An alternative is a packed lunch from home, which is a great way for your child to learn about healthy food and to help with preparation. Highly processed, sugary, fatty and salty foods should only make up a very small part of your child’s diet. Brown bread Sandwiches or homemade bread with vegetables and fruits should be included in lunch box.
Children of this age may have swings in appetite depending on activity levels, so allow them to choose how much they need to eat while offering a wide variety of healthy foods. Some children only eat small amounts at the evening meal, so make sure that the afternoon snack is nutritious.
- Children should be encouraged to drink plain water.
- Sweet drinks such as cordials or fruit juice are not needed for a healthy diet and aren’t recommended.
- A glass of milk (or a tub of yoghurt or slice of cheese) equals a serve of dairy food. Three serves are needed each day for calcium.
Treats and peer pressure affect eating habits
Peer pressure to eat particular ‘trendy’ foods at this age is strong. Let your child eat these kinds of foods occasionally, such as at parties, special events or when the rest of the family enjoys them. It’s best to limit the amount of money children are given to spend at school or on the way home.
The occasional lolly, bag of chips or takeaway food doesn’t do any harm.
Healthy eating tips for school-aged children
- Children need a variety of different foods each day.
- Snacks are an important part of a healthy diet for active children.
- Make snacks nutritious, not just high in energy.
- Plan to share meals as a family.
- Enjoy talking and sharing the day’s happenings at mealtimes.
- Let children tell you when they’re full.
- Give your child lunch to take from home.
- Let children help with food preparation and meal planning.
- Encourage physical activities for the whole family.
- Encourage children to drink plain water.