Healthy eating for children
Healthy eating is essential for child’s good health, growth and development. Healthy eating in childhood means by which they will have less chance of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers. It will also mean they feel better and enjoy life more.
To stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight, children need to be physically active and eat the right amount of nutrients to balance the energy they use.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend children should enjoy a wide variety of foods from these 5 food groups:
vegetables, legumes and beans
cereals (including breads, rice, pasta and noodles), preferably wholegrain
lean meat, fish, poultry and/or alternatives
milks, yoghurts, cheeses and/or alternatives (children under 2 should have full-fat milk, but older children and adolescents can have reduced-fat varieties)
Children should limit their intake of foods that contain saturated fat, added salt or added sugar. They should also be encouraged to choose water to drink
Which foods should child limit in their diet?
Some foods are not essential in children’s diets. These are called ‘discretionary foods’ and are generally high in kilojoules, saturated fat, added sugars or added salt.
While it’s okay to eat small amounts of discretionary foods occasionally as part of a balanced diet, you should try to limit these foods in your child’s daily diet. Eating large amounts of discretionary foods can lead to children becoming overweight or developing diseases in later life.
Examples of foods to limit are:
sweet biscuits, cakes and desserts
processed meats and sausages
ice-cream, confectionery and chocolate
store-bought burgers, pizza, hot chips, and fried foods
crisps and other fatty and/or salty snacks
cream and butter
sugar-sweetened cordials and soft drinks
Here are some tips to help you limit foods for children:
Instead of using a lot of butter, cooking margarine, cream or coconut or palm oil, choose vegetable oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado.
Read labels and always choose low-salt options.
Don’t add salt to foods during cooking or at the table.
Drink more water rather than sugary soft drinks, cordial, energy drinks or sports drinks.