Remember to include these sorts of foods every day:
• Milk and dairy foods – these provide protein, vitamins and minerals and are a good source of calories for growing children.
• Meat, fish, eggs, beans, peas and lentils – these are rich in nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals. You can give boys up to four portions of oily fish a week, such as mackerel, salmon and sardines, but it's best to give girls no more than two portions of oily fish a week.
• Bread, and other cereals such as rice, pasta and breakfast cereals, and potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes – these starchy foods provide calories, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
• Fruit and vegetables – these contain vitamin C, and other protective vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre.
Although toddlers can eat the same food as adults, before they're two years old children can't eat large amounts of food at one sitting. So, until then, give your child meals and snacks packed with calories and nutrients (nutrient dense foods) such as:
• Full-fat milk and dairy foods
Don't forget to give them fruit and vegetables and starchy foods as well. But if you tend to eat high fibre foods, remember that young children's stomachs can't cope with foods such as wholemeal pasta and brown rice. Also, too much fibre can sometimes reduce the amount of minerals they can absorb, such as calcium and iron. By the time they're five years old, young children should be eating family food, which is more bulky as it contains lots of starchy foods and plenty of fruit and vegetables. But make sure it doesn't contain too much saturated fat, which is found in butter, hard-fat spreads, cheese, fatty meat and meat products, biscuits, pastry and cakes.
The food we eat can be divided into five different food groups.
Group 5 - Carbohydrates; these are high-energy foods such as bread, cereal, rice, and potatoes. Although mainly carbohydrates they also contain some protein, vitamins, mineral and fibre. They gives energy, maintains a healthy bowel. Fibre provides bulk and helps digestion, prevents constipation and encouraging chewing and healthy gums. Children need 5 portions from this group per day.
Group 4 - Fruit and Vegetables: These provide a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They are essential for healing and fighting infection. Green vegetables contain iron, citrus fruits and potatoes vitamin C. Orange colour fruits contain vitamin A. In addition, they are good for healthy skin and blood formation and good vision. Children need 4 portions from this food group per day.
Group 3 -Milk and dairy products: These include milk, yogurt, and cheese and fromage frais. They contain protein, vitamins A, D, and a rich source of calcium. A child requires 1 pint of milk a day to ensure the right amount of calcium to form their healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it is good for the healthy working of the nervous system. Children should not have skimmed milk under the age of five. They will need 3 portions from this group per day.
Group 2 - High Protein Foods: These include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, tofu, quorn, and pulses. They are essential for growth and repair of the body. Good for brain, blood, skin and other tissues. Oily fish ant liver contain vitamin A. Children will need 2 portions from this group per day.
Group 1 - Oils and fats: These foods are concentrated source of energy but too many saturated fats (animal fats) may result in heart disease in later life. Most of the child’s fats requirement is found in their diet – meat, cheese, crisps and cakes. They should eat this