Eating well benefits people of all ages, but it is especially important for your little ones. Encouraging children to eat a nutritious, balanced diet early on in life is important and will help them to make healthier choices as they become adults.
The food they eat is particularly important for their growth and developing brains. Preparing healthy meals together is a great way to spend quality time as children love cooking and are more likely to eat things they’ve helped create.
Fresh fruit and veg vouchers
If it's tricky to buy more fruit and veg on your budget we can help. Working with our partner, the Alexandra Rose Charity, we distribute vouchers to spend on fresh fruit and veg at North End Road market. The vouchers are worth £3 per child, every week (or double if the child is aged under 12 months). And, if you need some inspiration in the kitchen, our cook and eat classes get the whole family involved in the action. Find our more by contacting Masbro, Melcombe and Fulham Central family centres.
What is healthy eating?
There are several food groups and it’s important that your child gets the right amounts of each in their diet. The Eatwell Guide recommends:
- eat 5 A Day
- base meals on starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, eaten in small amounts
- drink plenty of fluids
Please note that the Eatwell Guide does not apply to children under the age of two because they have different nutritional needs.
Pick-up free vitamins
Vitamin D is an essential daily vitamin for children’s growth and development. Healthy Start vitamins containing Vitamin D are freely available for pregnant women and children aged under five. You can pick up your free Healthy Start vitamins at your local family centre.
Top tips for a healthier lifestyle
Eat as a family. It's a great way to catch up on what has happened during the day.
Eat at the table, with no TV or screens - make meal time, family time.
Alongside healthy eating children need at least 60 minutes of exercise every day to maintain a healthy weight and keep a heart healthy, it will reduce their risk of serious illness and strengthen muscles and bones.
Huge portions of food are overwhelming, so serve up small ones, they can always have more. A serving counts as a handful, for a child it would be a child-sized one.
Many snacks are full of the things that are bad for us, sugar, salt, fat and too many calories. So try and keep an eye on how many your children are having.
It's normal for children to reject food. Encourage them to try different things and if they don't like it take it away, you can always try on another day.
And, of course, mealtimes can be a great time to have the conversations or face-to-face interactions that all children need to help them develop the healthy brains they need to thrive. Find out more about brain development.