Eating well means enjoying a balanced diet with a good mixture of foods and plenty of fruit and vegetables. It should give your child the right amount of energy for their day as well as all the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Make sure they keep topped up with fluid, water or milk is best. Remember that the amount of food a child needs changes as they grow, it’s very important to make sure they have “me sized” portions. It might be a shame to see food go to waste but it is better for your child to stop eating when they are full rather than clearing the plate.
It is recommended that younger children age six months to five years have vitamin drops, check NHS choices for details.
The “eatwell guide” below is an easy to understand picture of what a balanced diet looks like.
There are lots of good reasons to eat healthily. A child’s body (and yours!) needs lots of different nutrients and vitamins to stay at its best. A healthy diet can help improve concentration and learning at school, especially when they are getting enough physical activity too. Having the right nutrients as your child grows can help them in later life by building strong teeth and bones. Eating a balanced diet and making sure they do some physical activity is the best way to make sure your child stays a healthy weight.
You can find healthy food almost anywhere! Shops and super markets are great as long as you know what you are looking for. Check the packaging, there is probably a traffic light label showing how many calories, sugar, fat and salt is in the food. Watch out for foods with the red and amber labels, you don’t want to eat too much of those!
Using a smaller plate makes it easier to give a child a child size portion, getting the kids involved in cooking and serving will help them understand food better and give them useful skills. Make healthy snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon a regular thing. Keep an eye on portion sizes like sharing bags of crisps. Use the eat well guide when planning meals and out shopping, get your children to try and use it too. Show them what food labels mean and how it relates to healthy eating. Try the sugar swap tool on change 4 life to find healthier alternatives for sugary snacks.
The internet is a really good place to find lots of recipes but watch out because they might not all be very healthy. The Change 4 Life website has a recipe section full of tasty healthy recipes for any meal which can all be made quite cheaply. There is a handy icon which shows how easy a recipe is to make and how long it takes to do.
Also look for chances to swap ingredients to make your favourite recipes a little bit healthier.
The most obvious way to tell if your child has an issue with food is their weight. As a parent you might find it hard to tell if your child is a healthy weight, use the NHS BMI calculator to check. A child doesn’t have to be underweight to be malnourished; symptoms might include appearing anxious or sluggish.
Don’t forget that being overweight can also cause health problems. Obese children are more likely to be ill, be absent from school due to illness, experience health-related limitations and require more medical care than normal weight children. Overweight and obese children are also more likely to become obese adults, and have a higher risk of disability and dying early in adulthood. The NHS Choices website has lots of useful information for parents:
There is much information about eating disorders available on NHS choices and links to charity websites such as Anorexia and Bulimia Care, and the BEAT website. If you have concerns that your child has an eating disorder speak to the school nurse or GP who will be able to refer your child to an appropriate service. It might be possible to speak to the child themselves, in a non-judgmental way and explore how they are feeling. Even if they push you away the most important thing is being there for them.
Most NHS services for eating disorders will require referral from a health professional, talk about your concerns with the child’s school nurse or GP.
If you are concerned that your child is overweight, use the NHS BMI calculator to work out their body mass index. If it is over the 91st centile they can be seen by GetGoing, a specific children’s weight service in the area, alternatively speak to the school nurse or GP about referral.
For children and young people aged four to 16 years who are above a healthy weight and live in North Lincolnshire, the Get Going team provides a free personalised and supportive approach to childhood weight management.
This successful programme enables children and their families to access FREE one-to-one sessions in their home or community setting. Each session aims to empower and motivate children to make healthier lifestyle choices.
Please contact Alex Piercy for more information or to make a referral to the Get Going team – tel 07702 275246 or email Nlccg.firstname.lastname@example.org
Helping your child to eat a healthy balanced diet and be more active can be an effective way to help them lose weight. The Change 4 life website has lots of useful tips on being more active.
For children over 16, or if as an adult you would like to learn more about healthy eating or learn some cooking skills yourself you can self-refer to the health trainer service.
To get more information or to register with a Health Trainer, there are three ways to get in touch with the Health Trainer service:
Telephone: 01724 292170
or visit us at the Ironstone Centre, West Street, Scunthorpe, DN15 6HX