Good nutrition for kids is one of the building blocks of childhood development. Forget about children’s multivitamins and dreaded fish oil tablets, because building healthy dietary habits begins with the naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals found in a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide up-to-date advice about the types and kinds of food required for children to get the best start in life. We advise you to read the document for more specific advice, or If you’re worried about your child’s ability to eat certain foods, visit their paediatrician. Children of working parents spend up to 35 hours a week in childcare, so it’s important to recognise whether your childcare provider has a comprehensive nutrition plan. Little Zak’s is committed to meeting parents in the middle when it comes to childhood wellbeing, providing complimentary meals and snacks developed in accordance with culinary and nutrition professionals.
Variety is one of the key concepts involved in childhood nutrition. A balanced meal should comprise the main five food groups – vegetables and legumes, grains, lean meats and poultry, fruit, and dairy. Our aim at Little Zak’s Academy is to help guide your child towards sound food habits which will to help them maintain a healthy weight and good health in the long term.
- Approximately half a plate should be vegetables, of all kinds and colours. These are beneficial as they contain the fibre, energy, vitamins, and antioxidants that your child needs. High fruit and vegetable consumption is also associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease. Try involving children in grocery shopping, and let them see, smell, and feel different kinds of vegetables to choose which they would like to eat.
- Encouraging kids to eat vegetables means creating an environment where fresh fruit is available on hand. Chop up carrots or celery sticks and keep them in the fridge. Try a new vegetable once a week, or prepare them differently each time. Some kids may dislike the texture of cooked broccoli but enjoy eating it raw.
- Fruits should be eaten either whole or sliced, and their natural sweetness makes them a popular food to engage with at snack time. Limit fruit juice to 1 glass per day, as this is lower in the essential fibre that fruit contains. For information on standard servings for specific age groups, read the Australian Dietary Guidelines.
- Minimally processed grains – whole oats, whole wheat pasta, and ancient grains like quinoa and bulgur are the most beneficial for a toddler’s diet. These have less of a drastic effect on blood sugar and insulin when consumed. Leaving grains unprocessed means that all of the vitamins, fibre, and minerals remain along with the carbohydrates. Whole grains give active toddlers a slow-release form of energy to power them throughout the day and avoid spikes and slumps in blood sugar levels.
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yoghurt are excellent sources of calcium, which is vital for strong bones and teeth. Unflavoured milk and plain yoghurts are best to avoid added sugars. In addition, dairy products are rich in protein, which is necessary for building and repairing tissues in the body. Additionally, dairy products are an excellent source of vitamin D, which is important for the absorption of calcium in the body.
Meat, poultry, and fish
- Meat and poultry are important sources of protein and other essential nutrients in a child’s diet. Proteins are necessary for building and repairing tissues in the body, and they also play a critical role in the growth and development of children. Additionally, meat and poultry are rich in iron, which is essential for the formation of red blood cells and for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. It’s recommended to stick to lean cuts of meat and avoid processed meats, like salami, bacon, or cabanossi. These are known to have carcinogenic properties and should be avoided at all ages.
Foods that are high in kilojoules, saturated fats, added sugars, and excess salt are not essential to a healthy diet. As a parent, your child’s health is your responsibility, and it’s important to avoid making these foods an everyday occurrence. At Little Zak’s, we enjoy being a healthy part of your child’s lifestyle and setting positive eating habits and routines. Save discretionary choices for special occasions.
In conclusion, healthy eating habits are essential for children’s growth, development, and overall well-being. By incorporating a variety of foods and limiting processed and sugary snacks, parents can help their children develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. Additionally, it’s important to limit discretionary foods in a child’s diet to promote good health and reduce their risk of chronic diseases. By introducing Little Zak’s Kitchen into their weekly routine, we can teach children to make smart food choices while teaching them an important life skill! Find out how Little Zak’s helps keep your children in good health by contacting us today.