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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Video: healthy eating for 5 to 9 year olds

Advice on helping your children to eat healthy food and how to make it fun.

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First parent: "What would be the best way to get my six year old and nine year old healthy and actually eating the same things as my husband and I?"

First child: "Well, with my little brother - it's quite annoying to get him started, but now he's getting to learn how to eat his vegetables. I'm easy to do it."

Penny Brinckley, Food Standards Agency: "A great way to get children involved in eating a varied and balanced diet is to not only get them involved in cooking but also thinking about the ingredients that go into a recipe. Get them to come with you shopping, bringing the food home, preparing it, chopping, cooking, talking about the texture and the taste of the food. When you actually introduce it to them, they'll be much more familiar with it and likely to try it. If they don't the first time, don't give it up and don't worry - just try it again at a later time."

Second parent: "Sarah, when she was a lot younger, wouldn't eat healthy food, so we shaped the food - for example vegetables - into something that was a bit more fun, so that she would eat it."

Second child: "It's nice to spend time cooking as a family."

Third child: "I like cooking with dad because he makes everything fun."

Introduce new food to your child whenever you can

Penny Brinckley: "Often, children need to be shown a food a few times, so introduce the food to your child and talk to them about that food and then they'll be much more likely to want to eat it if they're familiar with it."

First parent: "They are quite fussy - they'd still rather have their nuggets and chips than vegetables."

Third parent: "We tend to put it on the plate and say 'try this' or we've tried food tasting, where we all try the one food."

Encourage your child to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables each day

First child: "The most important thing is that you won't get ill and you just get healthier and stronger."

Penny Brinckley: "It's important to remember that fresh, dried, tinned and juiced fruit and vegetables all count towards your five a day. So simple ideas like adding some vegetables to curries and casseroles, putting vegetable toppings onto pizza, such as slicing up peppers and adding sweetcorn to pizzas, is a great way to get fruit and vegetables.

"When choosing food for children it's really important to check the label so that you can choose those options that are lower in saturated fat, salt and sugars when you can."

Eileen Hayes, parenting advisor: "We're meant to enjoy food. Food's meant to be one of life's pleasures and if you're constantly banning things and saying 'You can't have this food or that food', that can actually be really unhelpful later on. So it's about a calm, sensible, laid-back approach to healthy eating. Offer the healthy choices, but don't get into one of these really obsessive things about it."

Useful tips:

  • involve children in shopping and cooking
  • check food labels
  • tasting new foods can be fun

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