Healthy eating is a habit!!!

Recommendations and Guidelines

Healthy eating is a habit. Like all habits, it can take some time and effort to get started but, once set, it can last a lifetime. One of the best things we can do for our children is to help and encourage them to make healthy eating choices at home, at school and when they’re out and about.

What is healthy eating?

The Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents for sound nutrition.

The guidelines recommend that children and young people eat plenty of ‘plant’ foods, such as vegetables, legumes, fruits and grains (preferably whole grain).

They also recommend eating lean animal foods and reduced fat dairy products, drinking plenty of water, limiting the intake of fat (especially saturated fat), choosing low salt foods and consuming only moderate amounts of sugary products.

The key point it makes is the importance of eating a variety of foods, in the right proportions, from each of the food groups:

  • bread and cereals, including rice, pasta and noodles and other grain products
  • vegetables and legumes
  • fruit
  • milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • meat and meat alternatives, such as fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and legumes

About two-thirds of the food we eat should come from the first two groups: breads and cereals and vegetables and legumes.. It pays to learn about each of these food groups so you can decide what’s best for your child. The minimum number of recommended daily serves from each food group is set out in the table below.

Recommended Serves per Day

Age  Bread & cereals  Vegies & legumes  Fruit  Milk, yoghurt & cheese  Meat & alternatives
 4-7  3  2  1  2  1/2
 8-11  4  3  1  2  1
 12-18  4  4  3  3  1


Examples of what a serve means for each food group:

  • 1 serve bread or cereal = 2 slices bread, 1 cup of rice, pasta, noodles or porridge, 1 1/3 cup breakfast cereal
  • 1 serve vegies and legumes = ½ cup cooked vegies, 1 medium potato, 1 cup salad or ½ cup cooked legumes (beans, peas or lentils)
  • 1 serve fruit = 1 medium or 2 small pieces, 1 cup canned, 1 ½ tablespoon dried
  • 1 serve milk, yoghurt and cheese = 1 cup (250ml) milk or custard, 1 small tub (200g) yoghurt, 2 slices (40g) cheese
  • 1 serve meat or alternatives = 65 -100g cooked meat or chicken, 80-120g cooked fish fillet, 2 small eggs, ½ cup cooked legumes (beans, peas or lentils)

‘Extra’ (sometimes) foods

‘Extra’ foods include biscuits, cakes, desserts, pastries, soft drinks other fatty, sugary and salty snack foods, such as crisps, pies, pasties, sausage rolls and other takeaways, lollies and chocolates. These foods have low nutritional value and are high in energy (kilojoules). These foods should be eaten only sometimes, in small amounts or not at all.


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