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Healthy eating for kids

Healthy eating means eating a wide variety of nutritious foods. Healthy foods contain all the energy, minerals, vitamins or fibre you need to grow. You should try and eat lots of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and bread. Small amounts of foods like cakes and lollies are fine to eat too, as long as you don't eat them all the time.

Healthy eating means eating a wide variety of nutritious foods from all of the food groups. These foods contain lots of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Eating a wide variety of foods from all food groups will help you grow.

Some foods contain too much sugar or fat and not many vitamins or minerals. These are foods we should only eat sometimes.

The foods you eat have been divided into three groups according to how nutritious they are. These make up what is often called the ‘food pyramid’. You can use these groups to help you decide which foods to eat more of and which to eat less often.

Group 1: Eat these foods most of the time

You should try to eat lots of:

- Fruits and vegetables

- Breads

- Grains such as rice and pasta

- Beans and lentils.

You can see that these are all foods that come from plants. These foods all contain vitamins, minerals and fibre. Try to eat a wide variety of these foods. Try not to choose just one of these foods (such as fruit) to eat all the time. Eating plenty of all foods from this group will help you stay healthy.

Plant foods contain thousands of nutrients (small parts), which can help to prevent serious diseases. This is why it is important to eat a variety of different types of plant foods.

Group 2: Eat these foods moderately

These foods are important for health, so you should eat them in medium amounts:

- Dairy products such as milk, cheeses and yoghurts (sometimes low fat ones should be chosen)

- Lean meat

- Chicken (without skin)

- Fish

- Nuts.

These foods are all good sources of protein. Protein helps build strong muscles and can repair our body when we hurt or injure ourselves. Some of these foods also contain some important minerals, such as the calcium found in dairy foods (for strong bones) and the iron found in lean meats (to give us energy).

Group 3: Eat these foods sometimes

These foods don’t give us very many nutrients and are really just ‘extras’. They may contain lots of sugar or fat (or both) but often don’t have many vitamins, minerals or fibre. It’s OK to have these ‘sometimes foods’ if you are healthy, active and not overweight. Most of the time they are better left for occasions like birthday parties.

An example of one serve of these foods includes:

- Sweet biscuits (2 small)

- Chocolate coated bars (1 bar)

- Potato chips (30g)

- Ice-cream (2 scoops)

- Lollies/chocolate (30g)

- Cake or muffin (1 medium piece).

The food pyramid

The three groups of foods you eat from are often shown as a food pyramid:

- The bottom of the pyramid is the biggest part of the pyramid. It contains the foods you should eat most of the time.

- The middle of the pyramid contains foods you should eat moderately (a medium amount). They are important for health but we don’t need too much of them.

- The top of the pyramid is the smallest part of the pyramid. It contains foods you should only eat sometimes.

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