Children who grow up in families that enjoy a variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups and enjoy an active lifestyle are more likely to make their own healthy choices as they get older.
- Eat a healthy breakfast every day
- Choose ‘everyday foods’ from the Five Food Groups
- Save ‘sometimes’ foods for special occasions
- Eat a variety of types and colours of fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season
- Eat reduced fat varieties of milk, yoghurt and cheese
- Eat mainly wholegrain cereal foods and breads
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks like cordial, energy drinks, fruit juices, and soft drinks
- Learn about how foods are grown and where they come from
- Try new foods and recipes – kids can help with preparing and cooking meals
- Be physically active – play outside, walk the dog or run around at the local park
By providing your child with the recommended amounts from the five food groups and limiting the foods that are high in saturated fat, added sugars and added salt, they’ll get enough of the nutrients essential for good health, growth and development. They may also reduce their risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers later on in life.
What the experts say
The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide up-to-date evidence-based guidelines about the kinds and amounts of foods that we need to eat regularly for health and wellbeing. Here are the key points:
- Children should eat sufficient nutritious foods to grow and develop normally
- Children should be physically active every day
- Children’s growth should be checked regularly
Children should enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day:
- Legumes, beans and plenty of vegies of different types and colours
- Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high fibre varieties, including breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
- Mostly reduced fat milk, yoghurt and cheese
Parents should limit ‘discretionary’ or ‘sometimes’ foods, which are foods that are not an essential part of our diets. Discretionary foods are generally high in kilojoules, saturated fat, added sugars and added salt, and if chosen, should be eaten rarely and in small amounts. These include:
- foods high in saturated fat such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, takeaway burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips and other savoury snacks.
- foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters and energy sports drinks.
- foods and drinks containing added salt. (Instead choose lower sodium options and don’t add salt to foods in cooking or at the table).
Parents should replace foods which contain predominantly saturated fats like butter, cream, cooking margarine and coconut palm oil, with foods that contain predominately polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters and avocado.
Did you know?
22% of Australian children aged 5 to 16 years are above a healthy weight.
Only 26% of Australian children are active enough.
Only 5% of Australian children eat enough vegetables.