Nutrition and Healthy Food for Children

The essential foods that the body needs are foods rich in starch and fibre (carbohydrates) which are pasta, rice, oats, couscous and many more. Carbohydrates give us energy, calcium, fibre and B vitamins which help to keep the digestive system healthy. Recommended amount is 3 to 5 servings per day. Protein groups contain nuts, beans, peas, lentils, quorn and Soya for vegetarians. Meat, fish and eggs also hold protein. They provide us with iron, minerals and vitamins to help the body repair and grow.

We should be eating 2 – 3 servings a day. Dairy is another food group which includes, milk, yoghurt and cheese. These contain protein, calcium and vitamins. Dairy keep are bones and teeth healthy.

We should try to eat 3 servings a day. Plenty of different fruits and vegetables whether they are fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. These give us antioxidants and chemicals which can prevent illness; they keep the digestive system healthy and are high in fibre. And the recommended amount it 5 portions per day.

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Lastly it is important that you include fats and sugars in your diet but too many fizzy drinks or high fat content foods can have a negative effect. You need to make sure that you vary different food and only eat the amount to maintain a healthy weight.

There are a number of government initiatives to encourage healthy eating such as ‘five a day’ and ‘CHANGE 4LIFE’ which encourage adults and child to make sure they eat 5 portions of fruit of vegetables per day. Now these initiatives have been brought in companies have started labelling which of their products contain ‘1 of your 5 a day’

REFERENCE: (food group fun)


Weather the child is under eating or over eating there are many effect on the health and well being of the child. A child may be getting bullied or teased for the way they look, or may feel under pressure from society to look a certain way. This can affect confidence and self-esteem. The child will become self conscious as they may not be able to find clothes to fit them and feel comfortable in, dressing like their favourite pop star may become increasingly difficult due to weight.

Confidence may also be affected in normal day to day activities, things such as getting picked for sports teams, difficulty climbing trees, running around the playground or the steps onto a bus may become increasingly difficult through lack of energy. Behaviour has also been linked to lack of nutrients and associated with ADHD and various other needs such as a delay in intellect development. Children can lack in the ability to concentrate if they do not have the correct nutrients. The child’s dental health could also be at risk due to the amount of sugary foods and drinks they consume, it causes the teeth to grow weak. Lack of nutrients can also diminish growth, weaken bones, and contribute to poor concentration and motor skills.



Government guidelines include the 5 a day initiative which promotes the benefits of eating 5 a day, raise awareness of health benefits that eating 5 a day has and also improving access to fruit and vegetables. Children ages between 4 and 6 years old are entitled to one piece of free fruit per day, and all settings in their daily menu must provide at least 5 fruit and/or vegetables.

Healthy start helps families on low income in England, Scotland N.Ireland and Wales by providing them with vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables for young children and pregnant women. Each voucher is £3.10 and it encourages earlier and closer contact with health professionals for advice. The Food Standards Agency was set up by an Act of Parliament in 200 and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) is a group of independent expert who advise government agencies/departments on nutritional needs.

There are some general tips on diet on the eat well website: base meals on starchy foods, eat lots of fruit and vegetables, eat more fish, cut down on saturated fats/sugars, try eat less salt, get active, drink lots of water, don’t skip breakfast.


Penny Tassoni et al – CACHE Level 3 Childcare and Education 4th edition



Molescroft Primary School promote their healthy eating via their policies by having a 14 choice, self service salad bar which is available every day, this means that they have free choice for their lunch. Aswell as salad there is also a self service vegetable bar everyday which has a range of 4 vegetables that the children can choose from, and it is stated very clearly that mixed vegetable will not be provided. There is also no limit on the amount of salad or vegetables the child have, they can return for seconds and mix and match what is on their plate. With every dessert offered at lunch time there is always yoghurt and fruit salad available.

Milk is provided for sale every lunch time for the children to buy if they want too. Also during morning break due to the time in the year and seasonal fruit there is always either fruit kebabs or a soup available for the children to buy if they are hungry. The school also provide fresh fruit for all year group’s daily meaning that each child can have a piece of fruit provided each day. The children will also have the opportunity to learn about the growing of fruit and vegetables, sustainable agriculture and there is a fair trade stall which sell fair trade orange juice. Through the curriculum of science and PSHCE the children will be taught the effects of a healthy/unhealthy diet. Every child has access to free flow water all day and can have water bottles in the classroom with either water or sugar-free juice supplied by parents.

It is also stated in the food policy that chips are a rare occasion and any other fried food will not be offered, which is showing children they can enjoy their food without the means of fried foods. It is also encouraged for parents, carers and relative to pre-book a school lunch which they can enjoy with their child so the child can be at ease while they eat their lunch. Children are not allowed to bring in sweets or sugar drinks into school for break or snack with the exception of special occasions. But it still stands that the contents of a lunch box is private unless it is breaking the health and safety rules, an example of this is a parent providing their child with a hard boiled sweet which is a choking hazard.




Through the night

Formula or breast milk


Breakfast approx 7 am

Formula or breast milk

1 – 2 table spoons of infant cereal

5 raspberries

Lactose intolerant children, will be provided with an alternative like soy milk on prescription by the doctors.

Vegetarians commonly Rastafarians, would have supplements like tofu or quorn in their meals instead of chicken or beef.

Judaism may not eat meat and milk together, so to cook the rice in milk and chicken together may not be eaten.

Vegan’s will not eat any animal product.

Through the day the baby will be getting more then their 5 a day which provides more then enough nutrients for the child, they will be getting their carbohydrates from the cereal, porridge and baby rice. Dairy from the milk and yoghurts.

Coeliac means that people have intolerance to wheat, so there would be a substitute for bread, or any wheat products.

Snack Approx 10am

4 Blue berries with baby porridge in a baby bowl

Lunch approx 12:30pm

Formula or breast milk

Baby rice (2 table spoons) with fresh vegetables and chopped up chicken

Small baby yoghurt or small piece of cheese

Half a banana softened.

Snack approx 3pm

Formula or breast milk followed by peeled and chopped grapes

Tea approx 5pm

Shepard’s pie with no added salt gravy, with very finely chopped vegetables.

Breast or formula milk

Ice cream for pudding

Before bed snack 7pm

Formula or breast milk



Porridge made with milk with jam on top

Drink of milk or water

Handful of raspberries


Lactose intolerant children, will be provided with an alternative like soy milk on prescription by the doctors.

Vegetarians commonly Rastafarians, would have supplements like tofu or quorn in their meals instead of chicken or beef.

Judaism may not eat meat and milk together, so to cook the rice in milk and chicken together may not be eaten.

Vegan’s will not eat any animal product.

Coeliac means that people have intolerance to wheat, so there would be a substitute for bread, or any wheat products.

The child will receive their 5 a day from the raspberries, blueberries, broccoli, tomato, onion, spinach, cauliflower, etc. this provides nutrients.

The children will receive calcium from dairy products such as milk or cheese, so people with intolerance can have a substitute.


Blueberry and banana milkshake, which contains milk, blueberries and banana.

Chicken pasta with a cream sauce with broccoli, tomato, onion and spinach mixed in with the chicken and pasta

Drink of water or milk


Plain yoghurt and drink of water


Shepard’s pie with broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. No added salt gravy

Drink of water and ice cream for pudding.


Slice of toast with butter on

Drink of warm milk


Penny Tassoni et al CACHE Level 3 Childcare and Education


Coeliac is a condition that prevents the consumer from eating wheat, this means that they can have diarrhoea which can cause the child embarrassment for if they accidentally consume wheat then it can cause your body to cause unpleasant smelling excrements and the passing of wind this could potentially cause a child to be teased at school. The child could have abdominal pains which may cause them to miss out on activities, there may be a school trip but the child may not feel well so this is disadvantaging the child if their condition is not handled properly. The child will need a specific diet to make sure that they receive all the nutrition they need.

There is no cure for wheat intolerance, but there are ways on controlling it. It is important that your diet is gluten free, healthy and balanced. Gluten can be found in pasta, cakes, cereal, bread, certain sauces, ready meals. Being diagnosed with celiac disease can also provoke feelings of isolation. Eating at school can seem quite a challenge if you have only just been diagnosed because of the fear that it only takes a small amount to upset your body. It can make a child sad that they can no longer eat a certain food that they really enjoy. It may cause a child to become a worrier, because they always fear that they could consume some gluten no matter how careful you are. They can also loose weight which especially in boys can cause a great upset, or they will not grow properly and become very tried which can have a great impact on their education.



Young children love to help so it’s a great age to promote safe preparation of food, they are mastering the control of their fingers so focusing the child on a hand on activity such as shelling a boiled egg or cutting soft foods into chunks are great way to benefit the child. You need to model the best practice when it comes to hygiene and safety of the child. Uses of heat, sharp objects are involved in the making of many things including the making of an egg mayonnaise sandwich. You should never dismiss a child’s help because there may be a danger but alter the way you wish to proceed in a safer manner.

Making sure everything you need is within reach showing the child good organisation skills, make sure that hand washing is carried out at every opportunity which will encourage the children to do so too; so for example when making a sandwich we was out hands before we start handling food and after the preparation, in the event of baking buns or something where we could get our hands messy you must wash your hands during preparation too. You also need to show the child how we clean down any surfaces that either us or the food may come into contact with while preparing our food, and after we have made our sandwich we need to encourage the child in the washing up of utensils.



Children need the right amount nutrients from foods, you need to make sure you have carbohydrates; this is a food group which is the starchy food such as pasta, rice, pasta, noodles, sweet potato, couscous etc. Carbohydrates give us energy and calcium and wholegrain carbohydrates give us fibre which makes our digestive system healthy. A healthy daily diet should include around 3 -5 servings per day, one portion is a slice of bread or 30g of cereal/porridge, six tablespoons of past or rice or 2 small new potatoes. Proteins are another food group which provide us with iron, minerals and vitamins, this will help the body to grow and repair itself. This group contains meat, fish, eggs and vegetable proteins such as nuts, beans, peas, lentils and quorn. We should be eating 2 -3 servings of this each day, one portion is equivalent to two slices of ham or turkey, two sausages, 1 beef-burger or a small can of tuna, salmon, sardines or mackerel, 100g portion of quorn/tofu. Milk and dairy products should be eaten at 3 servings per day. Dairy provides us with protein, calcium and some vitamins like B12, A and D, these will keep our bones and teeth healthy.

One portion of dairy is one medium glass of milk, one pot of yoghurt or matchbox size of cheese. Fruit and vegetables should be eaten at least 5 portions per day, this includes frozen, tinned, dried, and the juices. Fruits and vegetables give you lots of vitamins and chemicals called antioxidants and fibres to keep your body healthy. Fruit and vegetables are very low in calories which keep us full because we can eat more, controlling your weight is made easier when you eat lots of vegetables and will provide a whole range of important nutrients. One portion is one apple, orange or similar sized fruit, two smaller fruits such as plum, a handful of grapes, raspberries ect. The group we need least of is fats and sugars, this is things like butter, cooking oils, cream, dressings, chocolate, sugary drinks etc. These foods give us lots of energy but not many nutrients, they are often high in fat, sugar and salt and it is important not to have too much from this food group.

Children need to makes sure that they are drink enough to help the brain, digestive system and body work properly, the amount of water needed varies on the age of the child, the weight and how much physical exercise you do so its important to always have a drink to hand. What to drink is also important, sugary drinks can cause you to gain weight, so best drinks are water or milk (pref semi-skimmed) that’s because they do not contain sugar and milk provides vitamins, minerals and calcium. The recommended fluid id 6 to 8 glasses per day, drinking the right amount means that you wee should be a light yellow. The amount of salt added to food is very high in processed foods, we need to be careful as salt raises your blood pressure and risks heart disease and strokes which can happen later on in life. If you are aged 7 to 10 years you need less than 5g salt a day (2g sodium)

If you are 11 and over you need less than 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium. A healthy diet for children is essential for a child’s growth/development, on average a child should grow 2 and ½ inches per year, growing bones and muscles require the correct nutrition. Brain development and learning is also very important, some foods like fresh fruit can boost brain functions and we also need water intake. An unbalanced diet can lead to future health problems, heart disease, asthma, sleep apnea, diabetes and social discrimination. To help children life a healthy lifestyle provide them with a variety of nutritious foods at meal times, and limit the amount of treats available, and set example by eating healthy yourself.

REFERENCE: (food group fun)


Parents are thought of as the main influence on a child’s eating behaviours; however I think there are many factors that influence a child’s diet. Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, MS, lead author of the study and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health said “Young people’s eating patterns are influenced by many complex factors, and the family environment plays only a partial role. More attention should be given to the influence of the other players on children’s eating patterns such as that of schools, the local food environment and peer influence, government guidelines and policies that regulate school meals, and the broader food environment that is influenced by food production, distribution and advertising.”

He added, “Parents need to be better empowered to be good role models and help their children eat a healthy diet.” Life style also affects diet as some parents have very busy work lives so they do not have time to spend cooking tea or providing lunch boxes for the children, this can mean a pizza shoved in the oven and a bag of chips to follow. The same with religion some religions do not believe in eating certain meats so this could mean that the child misses out while they are at school.

At a young age friends can affect a child’s diet, when children eat together they take notice of what their friends are eating, a study published in journal “Health Education Research” in 2000 noted that “students reported peer influence as a reason for not eating both fruit, juice and vegetables and low-fat foods.” That means that a child will make their body suffer because of peer pressure even though it may not be intended. Parents or carers provide the food for the household so they have a massive influence on what the child’s diet consists off and when it is they eat. So if you mother stocks the cupboards up with crisps and sugary sweets then the child will begin to crave them and because they are high and fast energy food it means they will crave them more often then if the kitchen was stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, the child will become used to these even if they have been used to sugary foods and the fresh food will fill the children for longer. This will only work if the parent/carer is also eating the fresh food, because the child will after so long want to also eat the same food as the parents.

Foods availability is another factor, it can depend on the geographical location and the income of the family as a higher income family will have more opportunity to buy healthier foods as opposed to the lower income families. High calories/fat foods are cheaper for a family to buy, £1 for a microwave burger and £1 for a bag of oven chips is cheaper then buying broccoli, cauliflower and carrots for a full meal. It is the same as a family who lives in the country will have more access to fresh vegetables then a family that live in a built up area. A study published on the Focus on the Family website reported that “television strongly influences what children under 12 years eat.” The site adds that “kids who watch more than three hours of TV per day are 50 percent more likely to be obese than kids who watch fewer than two hours.” It is not just television that is to blame, the magazines that children read, the radio they listen too and the food packaging in displays also has a great influence on what children pick.



Eat better, start better is a programme designed to guide settings in the early years on “helping young children to eat well. We do this by working with families and everyone involved in early years health and education”. It supports the adults and encourages the children to make their own healthy choice on food and drink.

All settings must follow the EYFS requirements but as extra support settings can use the Eat Better Start Better. The EYFS states that fresh drinking water must be available and accessible at all times” this means that it is a requirement that practitioners make sure that the children have access to clean drinking water throughout their time at the setting, this can range from setting though, some children will bring their own bottles/beaker so this can be refilled at the setting, other settings provide water fountains for the children to drink from. This relates to Eat Better, Start Better because they advise the practitioner to encourage children to help themselves to water. In the EYFS there are no guidelines to how much water a child should be having per day, whereas in the EBST there is a recommendations on what to avoid and how much to drink.

Children having the choice of what they drink means they are more likely to do it again, providing access to fresh water rather then juice means that from been young children understand health. During my nursery placement the children brought in their own bottles, some parents provided the children with juice which was okay but the children would complain once the juice had gone because the nursery did not provide juice so the refill was only water. Inclusion is very important when wanting children to make healthy choices, offering 1 fruit for snack which not all the children like is not good practice; I believe that 2 fruits should be offered at snack times so the children get freedom of choice.

It is also important to include the children in the preparation of snack, I went on a school trip with year 5 to another school to compare school life and improve. During the 10 mins before break 5 year 6 children were chosen each day to make up fruit kebabs for the children and staff to consume, I believe this to be fantastic practice; this gives every child an equal opportunity to help. It is also important to make sure that no-one has allergies; this could mean that some kebabs should be made without banana for example as the child should not be disadvantaged. The Eat Better Start Better programme states that “children’s individual dietary requirements must be respected and protected” this means that if the practitioners are careful everyone can be included.

Settings should have a food policy which states their aim as a setting to encourage the choice of healthy eating/drinking. This is meals, snack and drinks all included, my settings food policy states that the school will only provide a healthy menu daily which includes a 14 choice self service salad bar, and a range of 4 self service vegetables and there is no limit on how many times the children return to the salad or vegetable bar and at break time free fruit is available for infants everyday and for all the school depending on time of year and seasonal produce the school offer fruit kebabs, soup and milk for sale.

Even for dessert there is always a fresh fruit salad offered at lunch. Each child should have a school water bottle they take home every night, they are allowed to bring in sugar-free juice but the school will only offer water as re-fill with the free access to water all day. Parents are encouraged to joing the children for lunch and can book a school dinner. The children have to take part in the Eco school agenda which means they will learn about the growing of fruit and vegetables, fair trade and sustainable foods, and foods from different cultures/countries will be introduced during themed weeks.


Cite this page

Nutrition and Healthy Food for Children. (2016, Aug 10). Retrieved from

Nutrition and Healthy Food for Children

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