Healthy eating for children

To balance your child's daily eating, make sure that you provide a variety of foods:

Include protein with each meal.

- Fish, chicken, lean meat or eggs could be eaten daily

Meat, chicken, fish and eggs are good protein sources. Try to cook these foods without too much fat or salt. Some fish are high in essential fatty acids (important for brain development) - these can be sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna.

Dried beans, peas and lentils are fairly good sources of protein and very high in fibre. Introduce them into your child's diet by adding to mince or vegetable dishes, or giving them baked beans on toast for an easy lunch.

Nuts are very nutritious and make a healthy snack. Peanut butter is also an excellent sandwich filler.

Have milk, maas or yoghurt everyday

Dairy products provide protein for growth and calcium for bone development - your child should have some milk, yoghurt and/or cheese every day. If allergic, other sources of calcium are: nuts, cabbage, broccoli, sardines with bones and soya products.

Eat dry beans, split-peas, lentils and soya regularly

Dried beans, peas and lentils are fairly good sources of protein and very high in fibre. Introduce them into your child's diet by adding to mince or vegetable dishes, or giving them baked beans on toast for an easy lunch.

Make starchy foods part of most meals.

Starchy foods provide the energy children need to stay active. It's important to include mostly high fibre starches that are more slowly released into the blood, therefore do not push blood sugars up too quickly. Controlled blood sugars help improve concentration. Fibre also helps regulate bowel movements.
Here are some guidelines:

  • Wholewheat/bran cereals and porridge oats/Maltabella
  • Seed bread/rye bread/high fibre bread and crackers/wholewheat pita bread
  • Wholewheat pasta, baby potatoes with the skin, sweet potatoes, brown rice
  • Popcorn

Use sugar and food and drinks high in sugar sparingly

Fizzy cold drinks and many of the flavoured waters are a ''sugar-rush'' for kids, so limit these to treat times only.   Sweets and chocolates should be occasional treats and should never replace meals or snacks!

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day.

Fresh vegetables and fruit provide the vitamins and minerals required to help prevent illness. Try to provide your children with a variety - at least five different fruit and vegetables everyday! Include one fruit with breakfast, two as snacks during the day and two different salads or vegetables at night.

Use salt and food high in salt sparingly

Avoid cooking with salt. Some food contains a lot of salt, e.g. processed meat, packet crisps, packet soups and sauces. Flavour foods naturally with herbs, garlic, chillies, ginger, black pepper and lemon juice.

What's to Drink?

Drink lots of clean, safe water
Encourage your child to drink water. Dilute fruit juices with water, as they are high in fruit sugar.

Be active

Being active keeps our bodies strong, helps control our weight and makes us feel great! Encourage your child to take part in at least one extra mural sport every term.

Meals for School.

Don't let your child go to school without breakfast as this meal helps them concentrate!

A good breakfast could be:

  • wholewheat cereal with milk or yoghurt
  •  toast with egg/peanut butter/cheese
  • bran muffin and yoghurt

Keep lunch boxes healthy and interesting, with a combination of starch + protein and some veg and/or fruit, e.g:

  • Sandwiches with different fillings, e.g. peanut butter/cheese/chicken/cold meat/tuna
  • Cheese wedges & wholewheat crackers or bran muffin
  • Use pita bread or wraps with protein fillings for a change
  • Pasta salad with chicken or meat kebabs
  • For snacks, try peanuts and raisins, unsalted biltong or dried fruit
  • Try to add fresh items like carrot or celery sticks
  • Chopped or peeled fruit is easier to eat. Try fruit kebabs
  • Add extra water or juice if they are going to stay for sport

Hyperactivity and lack of concentration in children seems to be on the increase.

Much of this may be caused by unhealthy eating habits. Children need to eat frequent meals with suitable foods.

Attention Deficit Disorder is a term that is commonly used but you should have this properly diagnosed by your Doctor.

A Dietitian can advise you what to add and take away from your child's diet.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Avoid excess sugar and rather provide the slow-release starches mentioned.
  • Avoid foods with certain artificial colourants, flavourants and preservatives - food labels can be confusing, so consult a Dietitian.
  • Give your child a general multivitamin and mineral supplement, as well as an essential fatty acid supplement (from salmon oil, starflower oil or flax seed oil).

**If you need more advice, click on the ''Ask the Dietitian'' to pose a question to our Registered Dietitian

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided by the SPAR Group Ltd for general information purposes only. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.