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.


In Your Backyard!!!

Children love to play and the backyard, courtyard or local park are great places to learn, explore, make up games and have fun. Backyard games can be inventive and encourage sustained concentration and application by kids.
Backyard games don’t have to be complicated or expensive – a bit of chalk, a ball or a skipping rope can all get a game underway.  Playing in the backyard also allows children to be noisy and messy, physically challenge themselves and move in ways that aren’t possible indoors.
Encouraging your kids to play is an important way you can support their health, coordination, self confidence and happiness.

children playing backyeard cricket2

Try these popular games

  • Hide and seek
  • Skipping
  • Hopscotch
  • Throwing and catching games, like piggy in the middle or knocking down a target
  • Chasing games, like tag and stuck in the mud
  • Racquet games against a wall
  • French cricket or backyard cricket
  • Running and jumping

Tips for backyard games

  • Check your backyard, courtyard or park and remove or block off unsafe areas
  • Let your children explore and make up their own activities and rules – try not to interfere
  • It’s more fun if your child has a friend or two (or you) to play with
  • Focus on what your child can do, not what they can’t
  • Make active play fun and positive
  • Be patient and provide plenty of time for your children to practise movements
  • Be active with your children – have fun and be a role model

Staying safe

  • Slip, Slop Slap, Seek, Slide – make sure your child wears sunscreen, sun glasses, clothing and a hat to protect him/her from the sun.  Play in the shade when you can
  • Being active means children will need extra fluids, especially if it’s hot and humid. Make sure they have regular drinks of water while they’re playing.

Five simple ways for a healthy lifestyle

There are five simple ways for a healthy lifestyle :

1. Get active each day

  • Regular physical activity is important for the healthy growth, development and well-being of children and young people.
  • Should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, including vigorous activities that make everyone ‘huff and puff’.
  • Parents should be good role models and have a positive attitude to being active.

2. Choose water as a drink

Water is the best way to quench your thirst – and it doesn’t come with the added sugar found in fruit juices, soft drinks and other sweetened drinks.

  • Reduced fat milk for children over two is a nutritious drink and a great source of calcium.
  • Give kids whole fruit to eat, rather than offering fruit juices that have a lot of sugar.

3. Eat more fruit and vegetables

  • Eating fruit and vegetables every day helps children grow and develop, boosts their vitality and can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.
  • Aim to eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day.
  • Have fresh fruit available as a convenient snack and try to include fruit and vegies in every meal.

4. Switch off the screen and get active

  • Sedentary or ‘still’ time spent watching TV, surfing online or playing computer games is linked to kids becoming overweight or obese.
  • Children and young people should spend no more than two hours a day on ‘small screen’ entertainment.
  • Plan a range of active indoor and outdoor games or activities for your children, as alternatives to watching TV or playing on the computer.

5. Eat fewer snacks and select healthier alternatives

  • Healthy snacks help children and young people meet their daily nutritional needs.
  • Snacks based on fruit and vegetables, reduced fat dairy products and whole grains are the healthiest choices.
  • Avoid snacks that are high in sugar or saturated fats – such as chips, cakes and chocolate – which can cause children to put on excess weight.

Healthy Eating Habits for Your Child!!!

By teaching your children healthy eating habits, and modeling these behaviors in yourself, you can help your children maintain a healthy weight and normal growth. Also, the eating habits your children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.

Some of the most important aspects of healthy eating are portion control and cutting down on how much fat your child eats. Simple ways to reduce fat intake in your child’s diet and promote a healthy weight include serving:

  • low-fat or nonfat dairy products
  • reduce the amount of sugar sweetened drinks and salt in your child’s diet.
  • whole grain breads and cereals

Children should never be placed on a restrictive diet to lose weight unless a doctor supervises one for medical reasons.

Guide your family’s choices rather than dictate foods. Make a wide variety of healthful foods available in the house. This practice will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices. Leave the unhealthy choices like soda and juice at the grocery store. Serve water with meals.

Encourage your children to eat slowly. A child can detect hunger and fullness better when they eat slowly. Before offering a second helping or serving, ask your child to wait a few minutes to see if they are truly still hungry. This will give the brain time to register fullness.

Eat meals together as a family as often as possible. Try to make mealtimes pleasant with conversation and sharing, not a time for scolding or arguing. If mealtimes are unpleasant, children may try to eat faster to leave the table as soon as possible. They then may learn to associate eating with stress.

  • Involve your children in food shopping and preparing meals. These activities will give you hints about your children’s food preferences, an opportunity to teach your children about nutrition, and provide your kids with a feeling of accomplishment. In addition, children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.

Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV. Try to eat only in designated areas of your home, such as the dining room or kitchen. Eating in front of the TV may make it difficult to pay attention to feelings of fullness, and may lead to overeating.

  • Encourage your children to drink more water. Over consumption of sweetened drinks and sodas has been linked to increased rates of obesity in children.