Living healthily is probably the best lesson you can teach your child, and it is one that will stay with them for life.
Helping your child develop and maintain healthy habits from young can help prevent health problems when they grow up.
One habit that is important to encourage is the habit of healthy eating. Some kids are picky eaters while some kids simply eat too much.
Chubby children may be cute, but not all children will eventually grow out of their chubbiness. Excess weight may lead to chronic health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. An overweight child may suffer from issues with self-esteem if they get teased by their friends because of their size.
The main rule of thumb when it comes to maintaining weight is energy balance:
If a person eats more than the energy they use, the excess energy that is not used will be stored in the body as fat and cause weight gain.
There are two easy ways to help your child live a healthy lifestyle and keep obesity at bay:
Knowing what kind of food to eat more or less of can keep your child on the path to good health.
My Healthy Plate is an easy-to-understand guide to better nutrition.
There are four main food groups:
Enjoy a variety from each group at every meal. A good mix of these will provide the nutrients that your child needs.
When planning your child's daily meals, it is important to include the right number of servings from the following food groups to ensure that your child obtains the nutrients they need.
The table below illustrates the size of one serving for each of the food groups.
Here are some ideas of what you can give your child between his meals if he is hungry:
Mix one cup of whole-grain cereal with ¼ cup of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews) and ¼ cup of chopped dried fruit (apricots, prunes, raisins and cranberries) for a healthy snack that you can take anywhere.
Top a cup of low-fat, low-sugar yoghurt with granola or fresh fruit for a quick calcium boost.
Top whole-grain crackers with a soft cheese spread or a piece of tasty cheddar for an easy-to-prepare snack that is rich in calcium.
Cut cucumber, celery, carrots and/ or capsicums into sticks and serve with a small side of low-fat dressing. This is a savoury snack that is easy to prepare in advance — just prepare the veggies and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
Freeze fruits such as seedless grapes, kiwifruit or strawberries for an icy-cool treat that is low in sugar and high in vitamins. For extra fun, skewer a few fruit pieces on a satay stick or toothpick before freezing.
Mash a ripe avocado with a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and some chopped ripe tomatoes to make a mild, nutritious guacamole that even your picky child will love. Serve with plain tortilla chips or wholegrain crackers.
Want to provide healthier options for your child and for your family?
Do look out for the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) on your next trip to the supermarket.
Food products with HCS are generally:
You can include a variety of HCS products as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, like all food, they should be eaten in moderation.
Preschoolers should be encouraged to have at least 180 minutes of physical activity spread out over the course of a day. Consider spreading the physical activity in between periods of inactivity.
If your child has a physical limitation or medical condition, please seek a doctor’s advice on the types and amount of physical activity that are best for your child.
Children at this stage are full of energy and it is amazing what they can do. Although they may be able to run, jump and climb, their skills in judgement and self-control are still developing. Always be aware of your child’s surroundings and ensure that they are safe during play.
Pool safety is also important, read about water safety tips in the article: Keeping your child safe.
Bond with your child while engaging in these everyday activities!
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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