How much food is too much food? How much is not enough?
It’s essential to eat a well-balanced diet so your kids have the best chance to grow up healthy and strong. The Department of Health and Ageing suggest the following table to work out how many serves per day is generally good for our little ones.
Of course every tummy is different so make sure you monitor how each of your children reacts to food and seek medical attention when necessary.
But what exactly is a serve?
Although adults usually decide what kids eat, we all know that kids eat what is available. Therefore, surrounding them with healthier options leaves them no choice but to eat better food.
Set the Family Up for Success
Small changes in five key areas can make a huge difference and add up to real results: eat more fruits and vegetables, consume less sugar and fat, eat healthier snacks, watch portion size, and eat together as a family.
Fruits & Vegetables
- Kids should eat five fruits and vegetables a day
- Serve fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables; they all count
- Provide fruit or carrot sticks as great snacks
- Offer 100% juice, with no added sugar
- Mix vegetables into dishes, like adding peas to rice, or cucumbers to a sandwich
Healthy Choices to Reduce Fat and Sugar
- Switch to low or non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
- Choose lean cuts of meat like skinless chicken or extra lean ground beef for hamburgers or pasta sauces
- Bake or grill instead of fry
- Substitute olive or vegetable oil for butter
- Substitute water or low-fat milk for sodas or sweetened beverages
- Drink less soda or sugar-sweetened drinks
- Switch to lower sugar breakfast cereals
- Switch desserts like ice cream and cake for fruit based desserts
- Reduce the number of snacks served each day
- Leave a bowl of fruit or carrot sticks on the kitchen table
- Differentiate between snacks that require permission (cookies), versus snacks that kids can take freely (fresh or dried fruit)
- Have kids drink water at snack time
- Save “treats” for special occasions
- Kids are smaller than adults and should eat smaller portions
- Use smaller plates for kids
- Don’t force kids to clean their plates if they are full
- Portions should be about the size of the back of a fist—a child’s fist for a child’s portion
- Start with a small portion. Children can have seconds if they are still hungry
- Family meals focus on eating and enjoying food and each other
- Eating together is a chance to model good behavior
- Regularly scheduled meal and snack times help kids learn structure for eating