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After your child turns four, it’s time to develop your child’s healthy eating habits as you continue to use healthy cooking methods when preparing food, and stocking some nutritional snacks for pre-schoolers.
At this age, it is quite likely that your spirited pre-schooler would have developed quite a personality to go along with his expanding vocabulary. He'll have strong opinions about many things, such as his likes and dislikes when it comes to what's being put on the dinner table.
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Get your child to eat a wide variety of food from all the major food groups! You can follow the recommended or suggested servings from each food group.
Recommended number of servings per day
Examples of 1 serving
* rice bowl ** 250ml mug *** 250ml cup +10 inch plate
To ensure your child eats from different food groups and in the right portions, use My Healthy Plate as a guide! When determining how much to put on the plate, use a child's plate (not an adult's plate!) for your pre-schooler. Fill ½ of the plate with vegetables and fruit, ¼ with wholegrains, and ¼ with meat/others for a balanced diet.
Related: Tips on Cooking Wholegrains
With the little one being more outspoken and opinionated as he grows older, you may find it increasingly difficult to deny certain treats or snacks to your child. It is important to stand your ground or else your child will not learn! You're teaching him invaluable, healthy eating habits that he will take into adulthood.
Remind him that high-sugar, high-fat, and high-calorie foods are not sinful, but are foods that should only be enjoyed sometimes, in small amounts as they are not as nutritious as other options. Avoid making fast food, fried snacks and candy seem forbidden as they may seem even more attractive to the little one.
Then there are foods that your little one should eat daily, and in moderate amounts: Wholegrains (e.g. brown rice, wholemeal bread, wholegrain noodles) and meat/others (e.g. lean meat, fish, nuts, eggs, lentils). These foods are nutritious for your child as they give your child the daily energy he needs. Watch the portions to make sure they don't eat more than needed, or else they might gain too much weight.
Go Green! Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre, nutrients and low in calories. Feel free to offer a second helping to your kid after meals. They are also nutritional snacks for pre-schoolers. It’s okay for pre-schoolers to eat lots of fruits and vegetables during meals and snack times.
If your cheeky pre-schooler doesn’t like fresh fruit for snacks, try making them more appealing and interesting. Why not make fruit popsicles with real fruit and pure fruit juice for hot afternoons? Or blend some frozen bananas into a yummy ice cream alternative to encourage picky eaters to cultivate healthy eating habits. Show him the many delicious ways to eat healthy meals!
Related: Healthy Meals with My Healthy Plate
Snacks don't have to be unhealthy. If your child is bored of strawberries, dried fruits or nuts as a snack, why not turn on the oven and bake some cakes or muffins?
Make a few simple tweaks to the recipe and you'll be whipping up a healthier treat for your kid.
For example, try replacing white flour with whole-wheat or buckwheat flour. Your child probably won't be able to taste the difference! It might take a few tries to get the flavour just right, but an afternoon baking in the kitchen with your child makes for a great family activity too.
Related: Banish Nasty Nibbles With Healthy Snacks
Make sure you get the little one to drink plenty of water frequently throughout the day—6-8 glasses per day. Kids can get so caught up in play at times, and they forget to take time out to hydrate themselves. Sugary drinks can cause tooth decay so avoid giving these to your kid.
Related: The Best Thirst-Quenchers for Kids
Pick lean meats, and remove the skin and visible fat from poultry when you can. Most of your meals should be stir-fried, boiled, steamed or grilled. Use healthy cooking methods that use less oil, salt and sugar; this is not only good for your child, but it's also good for the family too! If you'd like a bit more flavour in your meals, spice them up with a tiny dash of flavour-enhancing ingredients such as garlic, basil, cloves, cumin, turmeric and coriander seeds to appeal to picky eaters.
Related: From Goreng to Grill: Healthier Cooking Methods
While it is possible to control what your kid eats at home, it can be hard to do so if your child is at a pre-school for half of the day. Look for schools that are accredited under the
Healthy Meals in Pre-schools Programme (HMPP) so that your child can eat healthy both at home and school.
Related: Healthy Meals in Pre-schools Programme
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This article was last reviewed on
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
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