Healthy Food – A Healthy Start For A Healthy Future
Healthy food for kids
Everyone wants to see their kids grow up to be healthy adults and live an active and happy life, so what can you do to help your child achieve this? Your child’s health status through life is largely dependant on the start they receive as a child. After healthy eating during pregnancy and the first six months of milk, the introduction to healthy food and eating habits you encourage, are critical to your child’s health and development now and in the future and will influence their own food and lifestyle choices as an adult.
Once your child has been weaned, the most effective way to achieve a healthy, balanced diet is to provide your child with a diverse selection of low-sugar and low-salt foods. Fruit and vegetables are a healthy food group that contain some of the most important nutrients for building and maintaining good health and should be included in varied abundance in your child’s diet. There will be some varieties that you child will prefer more than other’s but don’t be disheartened if you are faced with outright refusal at first. Your child will take a little time to get used to different tastes and textures but with a bit of encouragement using small portions, in no time at all they will develop a taste for many foods. Of course, like adults, there may be some foods that your child will just not tolerate, no matter how much you entice them to eat.
After 12 months and for the first few years, a balanced diet for your child should include:
Healthy food servings per day
- 3-4 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
- 3-4 servings of starchy food including potatoes, rice and bread per day.
- 2 servings of meat, fish, eggs, pulses (including lentils and beans), or dahl.
Introducing lots of different foods early in your child’s life will help them become used to a varied diet and to have an open mind about eating new foods in the future. If you continue to give your child the same diet (even if they are healthy foods), there is a chance they may grow up to be a picky eater, fearful of trying new foods. Having a limited diet in childhood may also lead to nutritional deficiencies which will inhibit development and may increase the risk of developing health conditions in the future. Not only does your child require a high level of nutrition now, but they also need to build sufficient stores of nutrients for quick growth spurts. When feeding your child, bear in mind they may be allergic to certain ingredients. Always be alert for any adverse reactions, if you are in any doubt as to whether or not your child has any food allergies, seek advice from your doctor who may advise and arrange tests.
Mums lead a busy life, and there may not always be enough time to lovingly prepare home-made food day after day for their children, (as much as they want to!). However, in the early years of development especially, home-made food is by far the best option for healthy food. This is mainly because you have complete control over the ingredients and have the option to avoid adding sugar and salt (which is highly recommended), and use fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients. If you find yourself short of time, why not prepare large batches of food for different meals and store in the fridge or freezer for future use? Always take care to use best practices for storing and re-heating food.
Most young children know when they have eaten enough, so unless they are leaving almost a full plate, it is best not to force them to finish and avoid using sweet treats as a bargaining tool, (no matter how tempting it is!). Small and frequent meals with healthy snacks in between suits small children and helps them learn routines and healthy portions sizes. It is also worth bearing in mind, that in terms of candy and sugary foods, what they don’t know they cannot miss. There will undoubtedly come a time when they will be introduced to chocolate and sweets, but if you hold off as long as possible, they will develop a taste for low-sugar foods first, so the healthy foundations will already be set.