Healthy eating for kids is one of the most important things we can instil in our children. Sometimes it can be difficult to deliver your ‘5 A Day’ and cook nutritious meals in a busy household. Learning how to cook healthy, easy, and fun meals can be a game-changer for those who work long hours but still want to provide healthy eating for kids.
Looking at portion sizes, limiting sugar intake, and being careful about the fats you ingest can help your children stay fit and healthy. There are plenty of tips, recipes, and guided content to help you cook a storm in the kitchen to ensure your family enjoys healthy and nutritious food.
Healthy Eating for Kids: 5 A Day
The term 5 A Day is used frequently to describe the amount of fruit and vegetables that we should be consuming per day. Knowing portion sizes, tips for cooking, and what fruit and vegetables we should be eating and others we should be limiting, helps us make informed choices about the food we put in our bodies. Even though we’re not all herbivores, vegetables and fruit are important for the human diet.
We need to eat 5 a day because fruit and vegetables remain one of the best sources of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, and they’re integral for our bodies to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Eating these types of food has multiple health benefits as well as eating plenty of fruit and vegetables has been known to reduce the risk of diseases to do with the heart as well as some cancers.
There is such a large variety of fruit and vegetables to be enjoyed, that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Explaining healthy eating for kids while providing delicious and nutritious food to consume is a perfect way to engage your children in eating well.
Knowing what counts as 5 A Day is the first task, as the amount that a child should be eating depends on their size and also their age. The best estimation or rough guide for understanding portion size is the amount of food they can fit into their palm.
For adults, the portion size for fruit will be around 80 grams. To give you a visual, that would be a large slice of melon or pineapple. A medium apple, banana, or pair. Two smaller fruits like a plum. Seven strawberries or twenty raspberries, or a handful of grapes.
If you prefer dried fruit, then the portion size is much smaller, around thirty grams of dried fruit is considered one of your 5 A Day. This is because there is a much higher amount of fructose in dried fruit. One heaped tablespoon is equivalent to thirty grams and this could include food like raisins, cherries, or dates.
Vegetables are also incredibly important in regards to keeping you fit and healthy. A vegetable-heavy diet is also filling and keeps you satisfied during the day. You should be eating eighty grams of vegetables as part of your 5 A Day.
That could include things like three heaped tablespoons of peas, beans, and pulses. Three heaped tablespoons of cooked green vegetables like cabbage or spring greens. For those who prefer traditional vegetables, things like broccoli or a medium tomato will also suffice.
Salads are a great way of getting vegetables into your diet. A dessert bowl filled with salad greens is a portion of your 5 A Day. Using food plans is a great way to plan out what you are going to be eating while giving you control over the foods that you want to eat. Setting it out also allows healthy conversations around food and our likes and dislikes.
Food Plans: Choosing Healthy Eating for Kids
Ensuring you get your 5 A Day is important for maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so make sure that you and the rest of your family eat it is integral to your day.
There are plenty of breakfast ideas to encourage healthy eating. Things like adding fresh or dried fruit to cereal, porridge, or low fat, lower sugar yoghurt make a lovely breakfast treat. Children love things like strawberries and raspberries, so a handful of berries or a chopped banana over their breakfast is a perfect addition to their breakfast meal. Lunch can be fun as well, at home or in school.
Usually, school dinners offer their diners a portion of vegetables or a fresh salad. This is usually accompanied by a portion of fruit as well. This is a great way to encourage your child to eat their 5 A Day. If you’re doing packed lunches or you’re eating at home, you can easily add vegetables by encouraging them to try an array of textures in things like sandwiches.
Adding cucumber, grated carrots or tomatoes to their lunches are great ways to get them to eat healthily. Having a handful of berries or a piece of fruit is a great way too. Celery sticks and carrot sticks are great, especially if served with a little hummus dip.
Dinnertime is a great time to experiment with vegetables and introduce hearty pulses into the mix. Adding things like lentils, beans, and peas to stew can make them richer, and they’re also a lovely addition to bakes and salads. Mixing vegetables like peppers and mushrooms into pasta sauces is wonderful as well.
A heavy sprinkle of vegetables onto thin crust pizza can make them that bit healthier as well. Introducing a few vegetables into every meal is a great way of ensuring your family is getting to enjoy their 5 A Day healthily and vibrantly. While they might be vegetables, things like potatoes, yams, cassava, and plantain don’t count towards your 5 A Day.
That is because they form the carbohydrate part of a meal, just like rice, pasta, or bread. Typical juices are usually very high in sugar as well, so as long as you use unsweetened fruit or vegetable juices, or have made a fresh smoothie, these can count as one of your 5 A Day. Healthy eating for kids can be fun and good for all the family.
How to Encourage yourself to eat Healthy Food:
- Make it a point to eat healthy food inside your home instead of eating takeaway.
- Help your mum to make an easy recipe that will make you feel happy and enjoy eating your food.
- Replace cola with fresh fruit or milk.
- Decorate your food with some garnish. You can make a happy face with bread, eyes with olives, nose with carrots, and mouth with tomato and invite your friends to eat with you.
- Drink water daily.
- Slice fruits and vegetables into shapes and make a game with your sibling “ Who will be the first one to finish his meal?”.
- Don’t skip or delay a meal.