For a well-balanced diet, children need a large range of foods. A big part of how much they need to consume would be the amount of physical activity they have in a day. Snacking is important for keeping energy levels up while children are busy and involved. Generally, a healthy morning snack at recess and one after school * are expected every day.
It is crucial that breakfast is encouraged. In the morning, a good night’s sleep accompanied by food allows your child to stay active and focus at school. It also means that during the morning, your child is less likely to be too hungry and that will help with school results. Be a role model and let your child see that you are still having breakfast. A perfect starter for the entire family is a bowl of cereal with milk and fresh or stewed fruit.
Most schools have a canteen that provides a variety of choices of food. To promote safe food choices, most schools obey government guidelines. The food that your child chooses might be high in price and energy, but often low in nutrients. A packed lunch from home is an option and is a perfect way for your child to learn about nutritious food and to assist with planning.
Suggestions for lunch boxes include:
- Cheese sandwiches or pita bread, lean beef, hummus, and salad
- Cheese slices, crackers, and fresh or dried fruits with spread
- Raw vegetables or fresh fruits washed and cut
- Frozen milk bottle of water or tetra pack, particularly in hot weather
School lunches – foods to limit
- Meats such as salami, ham, pressed chicken, and Strasbourg processed
- Chips, soft cookies, and breakfast bars, and muesli bars
- Bars with fruit and straps with fruit
- Cordials, soft drinks, and juices.
Treats and peer pressure
At this age, peer pressure to eat specific ‘fashionable’ foods is high. Let your child sometimes eat these kinds of foods, such as at parties, special occasions or when they are enjoyed by the rest of the family. It is best to restrict the amount of money that children are provided to spend at school or on their way home.
No harm is done by the occasional lolly, bag of chips or takeaway food. However, if they are eaten too much, you might discover that:
- Not enough healthy meals are consumed.
- Kids become obese or overweight.
- You spend a lot of money, and having homemade snacks and lunches is much cheaper.
- An opportunity to teach your child about healthy eating is lacking.
Depending on the level of activity, children of this age can have appetite swings, so let them choose how much they need to consume when providing a wide range of healthy foods. Some kids eat just a small amount at dinner, so make sure the afternoon snack is nutritious, not just high in energy.
Family mealtimes are an opportunity for schoolchildren to share and chat about the activities and events of the day. Together, the evening meal is an important time to do this.
Suggestions for family mealtime include:
- Enable daytime activities to be spoken about and shared
- Avoid distractions such as the television, radio or the telephone.
- Let your child decide when they are full – don’t argue about food.
- Allow children to help with preparing meals and shopping
- Teach some simple nutrition facts such as ‘milk keeps your bones strong
- Kids should be inspired to drink plain water
- Sweet beverages such as cordials or fruit juice are not required and are not recommended for a balanced diet
- A bottle of milk (or a tub of yogurt or a slice of cheese) is equivalent to a serving of milk. For calcium, three servings are required per day
- Exercise and activity
A significant part of good health is physical activity. Every day, try to inspire your child to do something active, such as having a hobby, playing a game or engaging in sports. Also, some parents may worry about the weight of their infant.
60 minutes of exercise per day and no more than two hours of watching TV, DVDs or video games are recommended for primary school children.
In order to increase the behavior of your infant, aim to:
- Limit the amount of time spent watching the whole family’s TV.
- Do something together which is physical and involved.
- Go to watch the baby play games
- Promote daily action, not just exercise.
- Using the vehicle less, means everyone!
Healthy tips for school-aged children
- Each day, children need a number of different foods.
- For active kids, snacks are an important part of a balanced diet.
- Make nutritious snacks that are not just high in energy
- Plan as a family to share meals
- Enjoy speaking and sharing the happenings of the day at mealtime
- When they’re finished, let the kids tell you.
- Give lunch to your child to take home.
- Let children assist with food preparation and preparing of meals.
- Encourage the entire family’s physical activities.
- Encourage kids to have clear water to drink.
- Where to get help
- School nurse
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