Healthy eating: what schoolchildren need (2022)

Care should be taken to:

  • limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake
  • choose foods low in salt
  • ensure children consume only moderate amounts of sugars, and keep to guidelines on foods containing added or 'free' sugars

Children aged seven to 10 should consume no more than 24g free sugars per day (equivalent to 6 sugar cubes). Free sugars are those found in fizzy drinks, fruit juice, cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolate and breakfast cereals.

Why breakfast is important for your child

Mornings can be chaotic, and as a parent, you can be pushed for time when you need to get everyone ready for school. But, the first meal of the day is very important for schoolchildren and should not be missed. Studies have repeatedly shown that children who eat breakfast have far higher vitamin, mineral and fibre intakes and are better nourished, which helps them to focus in the classroom.

The best breakfast for children

Choose a morning meal that is rich in slow-release energy from granary bread, wholegrain cereals, porridge oats or nuts. Combine these carbohydrates with something protein-rich – such as nut butter, eggs, cheese or yogurt – to keep blood sugar levels balanced throughout the morning. Children of this age are mature enough to cope with wholegrain versions of these carbohydrate-rich foods. It’s best to choose an unsweetened, simple, wholewheat or oat-based cereal, which can be topped with fruit for sweetness, instead of those laden with sugar.

(Video) Healthy Eating for Kids - Learn About Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Vitamins and Mineral Salts

Healthy breakfast recipes kids will love

  • Dippy eggs with Marmite soldiers
  • Seven-cup muesli

Why lunch is important for your child

Whether it’s a packed lunch or something hot, the midday meal is an integral part of the day. The school day is long and energy demands are high, both physically and mentally – it's often at this time that hunger strikes, moods dip and the ability to concentrate wanes. Lunch should be nourishing and provide energy to last through the afternoon – eating too much or a meal that is high in fat or sugar can make children feel sleepy or give them a tummy ache. Choose foods for your child’s lunchbox that will sustain them without being too heavy.

The best lunch for children

Knowing where to start can be tricky, but as with all meals, the aim should be to include something from each food group to provide energy, a source of protein for muscle strength and the necessary vitamins, minerals and fibre. The traditional choice for lunchboxes is a sandwich, but don’t simply default to white bread – the options in the supermarket are plentiful, or you could consider baking your own.

However, there is life beyond the sandwich. Try oatcakes or rye crackers with little pots of hummus or guacamole, tortilla wraps with cheese, or beans or chicken with mixed salad leaves. You could also try a flask of soup or some leftovers from dinner the night before.

Be aware of salt content, which can be hidden in lots of packaged foods, as it tends to make children thirsty and could pose a problem at school. Make sure your child is drinking enough water, too, as a dehydrated child is far more likely to feel tired and grumpy. About six to eight cups of water a day is a good target. Fizzy drinks should be reserved for special occasions, as they are high in free sugars and may lead to tooth decay.

(Video) Healthy Eating: An introduction for children aged 5-11

Packed lunch ideas

  • Homemade bread recipes
  • More school packed lunch inspiration

Dealing with your child's tiredness

If you notice that your child is tired all the time, there might be a simple solution. Ensure they are getting enough exercise, as a lack of fresh air and being sedentary can lead to tiredness. Exercise produces endorphins that lift mood, increase metabolism and improve sleep. Lack of sleep is an obvious cause of fatigue, so check that their evening routine is not to blame. Anaemia (a lack of haemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood) causes children to feel constantly tired, look pale and sometimes suffer with headaches. If you suspect your child may be anaemic, check with your GP who can diagnose it with a blood test.

Anaemia is usually caused by too little iron in the diet. Red meat is the best source of iron, as well as a good source of protein and zinc. Other meats, such as chicken and fish, also contain iron, as do leafy green vegetables, legumes and enriched breakfast cereals and breads. Iron from these sources is not as well absorbed as the iron found in meat, but vitamin C increases iron absorption – adding fruit or other foods rich in vitamin C (such as tomatoes, broccoli or peppers) to iron-rich meals will increase the amount of iron absorbed. In contrast, tea, coffee and unprocessed bran can inhibit iron absorption, so avoid offering these alongside a meal.

More like this

Why fruit and fibre are important for your child

Sometimes when children are going through a tough time at school – with exams for example – the body can exhibit this upset in their gut. They may complain of tummy ache or have trouble going to the loo. Dig a little deeper into what might be going on before assuming it’s an allergy or intolerance. Many children experience constipation, and dehydration can be one of the most common reasons along with a lack of fibre. Fibre needs plenty of water to help it ‘bulk out’ the stool and stimulate the gut to move it through, so make sure you boost fibre and water in the diet or you can make constipation worse. Serve wholegrains, oats, quinoa, plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils and beans to increase fibre intake.

(Video) Healthy Eating & Nutrition for Children Ages 6-12

Fibre-rich recipes

  • Feel-good muffins
  • Dried fruit energy nuggets

Why calcium is important for your child

Calcium is important for the development and maintenance of bones and teeth, nerve function, muscle contractions and heart function. Getting enough calcium (as well as nutrients like vitamin D) and exercise during childhood and adolescence is important for increasing bone mass to prevent osteoporosis in later life.

How to get calcium into your child's diet

Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are the major sources of calcium in a Western diet. These also provide protein and vitamins A, B1, B2 and B3. Children in this age group can opt for low- or reduced-fat dairy products that have similar protein, calcium and vitamin values to full-fat equivalents if they want.

Children who do not eat dairy products, (such as vegans or those with diagnosed with lactose intolerance) will need to obtain calcium from a non-dairy source. Foods that contain useful amounts of calcium include leafy green vegetables, wholegrain cereals and breads, canned fish (eaten with bones), legumes (kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils), calcium-fortified plant-based milk and yogurt alternatives (such as almond, soya and oat-based products) and calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and juice. For more ideas, have a look at our vegan kids' recipes.

Your child and weight

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your child is overweight, but don’t be tempted to put your child on a weight-loss diet. Forcing an overweight child to go hungry can backfire, making them crave food even more. Children of this age are still growing, so try to maintain their weight while they continue to grow in height. This way, they will grow taller without necessarily adding pounds, and their weight could move into a healthier range. One of the best ways to promote good habits is to set a good example. Involve them in the food shopping, putting items away in the cupboards, preparing meals and, where possible, eating together as a family.

Healthy recipes for your child

  • Frying pan pizza
  • Feel-good fish cakes
  • Quick pancake wraps
  • Rainbow rice

This article was last reviewed on 14th October 2019 by Jo Lewin.

(Video) Wellbeing for Children: Healthy Habits

Jo Lewin is a registered nutritionist (RNutr) with the Association for Nutrition with a specialism in public health. Follow her on Twitter @nutri_jo.

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.


(Video) Healthy Eating for Kids - Compilation Video: Carbohydrates, Proteins, Vitamins, Mineral Salts, Fats

What are your experiences of keeping children healthy? Leave a comment below...


What are the nutritional needs of a schoolchildren? ›

Nutrition guidelines for school-age kids

This means whole grains (whole wheat, oats, barley, rice, millet, quinoa); a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables; calcium for growing bones (milk, yogurt, or substitutes if lactose intolerant); and healthy proteins (fish, eggs, poultry, lean meat, nuts, and seeds).

What are the needs of a child to be healthy? ›

Basics for a child's good physical health:

Nutritious food. Adequate shelter and sleep. Exercise. Immunizations.

What are 5 tips to encourage healthy eating? ›

Plate power – 10 tips for healthy eating
  • Choose good carbs, not no carbs. ...
  • Pay attention to the protein package. ...
  • Choose foods with healthy fats, limit foods high in saturated fat, and avoid foods with trans fat. ...
  • Choose a fiber-filled diet, rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits.
6 Nov 2013

What does the Eyfs say about healthy eating? ›

Every child has a right to nutritious food. When children eat better, they do better: they're in better shape to reach their potential. By getting them eating well today, we're creating the healthier adults of tomorrow: adults who are less likely to suffer health conditions linked to poor diet.

What are the dietary needs of teenagers? ›

Your teen should eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day (for a 2,000 calorie diet). 1,300 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. Your teen should eat three 1-cup servings of low-fat or fat-free calcium-rich foods every day. Good sources include yogurt or milk.

What are 5 main nutrients kids need? ›

Top 5 Essential Nutrients That Your Child Needs for Proper...
  • Protein. Most children in developed countries eat enough protein. ...
  • Iron. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common nutrient deficiency in the U.S. is iron deficiency. ...
  • Vitamin D. ...
  • Calcium. ...
  • Omega-3s.

What are the 10 things every child needs? ›

"The '10 Things' which dramatically improve a child's ability to learn are: Interaction; Touch; Stable Relationships; Safe, Healthy Environments; Self-Esteem; Quality Care; Play; Communication; Music; and Reading. Hosted by Tim Reid, actor and star of the WB's sitcom, 'Sister, Sister.

How do I help my child eat healthy? ›

8 Tips and strategies to get kids to eat healthier
  1. Offer choices. ...
  2. Let them make their own plates. ...
  3. Introduce gateway foods. ...
  4. Snack smarter. ...
  5. Give kids a behind-the-scenes look at food. ...
  6. Include your kids while cooking. ...
  7. Don't force it. ...
  8. Lead by example.
1 Apr 2019

What is healthy eating habit? ›

Advertisement. Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and have energy. These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals. Advertisement. Nutrition is important for everyone.

What are the 10 healthy tips? ›

  • Measure and Watch Your Weight. ...
  • Limit Unhealthy Foods and Eat Healthy Meals. ...
  • Take Multivitamin Supplements. ...
  • Drink Water and Stay Hydrated, and Limit Sugared Beverages. ...
  • Exercise Regularly and Be Physically Active. ...
  • Reduce Sitting and Screen Time. ...
  • Get Enough Good Sleep. ...
  • Go Easy on Alcohol and Stay Sober.

How can I eat healthy everyday? ›

8 tips for healthy eating
  1. Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates. ...
  2. Eat lots of fruit and veg. ...
  3. Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish. ...
  4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar. ...
  5. Eat less salt: no more than 6g a day for adults. ...
  6. Get active and be a healthy weight. ...
  7. Do not get thirsty. ...
  8. Do not skip breakfast.

Why is healthy eating important in Eyfs? ›

Good nutrition is essential during childhood, as it is a time of rapid growth, development and activity. This is also a vital time for healthy tooth development and prevention of decay. General eating habits and patterns are formed in the first few years of life.

Why is healthy eating important in early childhood? ›

Healthy eating is essential for your child's good health, growth and development. Healthy eating in childhood means they will have less chance of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers. It will also mean they feel better and enjoy life more.

How do we stay healthy for Eyfs? ›

BBC Learning - What Do Humans Need To Stay Healthy - YouTube

What is a healthy lifestyle for a teenager? ›

Healthy habits like fueling up with a variety of nutritious foods, staying active, drinking enough water, and maintaining a positive relationship with your body can help keep you happy and healthy throughout your teenage years and into adulthood.

How teenagers should maintain good health? ›

Eating right, staying active, and getting enough sleep are the cornerstones of a healthy teen lifestyle. Get your friends to join in the fun by playing sports and physical games with them. In addition, you should visit your dentist and doctor regularly.

How important is healthy eating? ›

A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition. It protects you against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, are essential for healthy diet.

What are the 3 most important vitamins? ›

According to Nutritionists, These Are the 7 Ingredients Your Multivitamin Should Have
  1. Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, which is important for bone health. ...
  2. Magnesium. Magnesium is an essential nutrient, which means that we must get it from food or supplements. ...
  3. Calcium. ...
  4. Zinc. ...
  5. Iron. ...
  6. Folate. ...
  7. Vitamin B-12.

What do we need to grow healthy? ›

Eat a healthy diet

Adults should eat at least five portions (400g) of fruit and vegetables per day. You can improve your intake of fruits and vegetables by always including veggies in your meal; eating fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks; eating a variety of fruits and vegetables; and eating them in season.

What food is good for growth? ›

Nutrition for Growing Bodies
  • Whole-Grain Foods with Carbohydrates, Fiber, B-Vitamins and More. ...
  • Fruits and Vegetables with Vitamins A and C, Potassium and Fiber. ...
  • Low-fat Dairy Foods with Protein, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium and Phosphorus.
28 May 2020

What are the basic needs of a family? ›

When families are able to meet basic needs such as food, housing, and medical care, parents and other caregivers experience less stress, which allows them to provide the critical support that children need to grow into healthy, productive adults.

What is basic care of a child? ›

A child's basic needs, such as food, clothing or shelter, are not met or they aren't properly supervised or kept safe. Educational neglect. A parent doesn't ensure their child is given an education. Emotional neglect. A child doesn't get the nurture and stimulation they need.

What does a child want? ›

What do children want? They want time with their parents. During that time, they want their parents' undivided attention. They want their parents to listen to them in a respectful way, without correcting them.

What are the three needs of early childhood? ›

For children to achieve their full potential, as is their human right, they need health care and nutrition, protection from harm and a sense of security, opportunities for early learning, and responsive caregiving – like talking, singing and playing – with parents and caregivers who love them.

What are physical needs? ›

Physical Needs.

Water. Oxygen. Elimination. Clothing and shelter for body warmth and protection. Activity, or sensory and motor stimulation, including sex, physical exercise, and rest.

Why is healthy food important essay? ›

Benefits of Healthy Food

It helps us in various spheres of life. Healthy food does not only impact our physical health but mental health too. When we intake healthy fruits and vegetables that are full of nutrients, we reduce the chances of diseases. For instance, green vegetables help us to maintain strength and vigor.

Why is healthy living important? ›

Benefits of healthy living

feeling better mentally – regular exercise can lift your mood and help you feel better. saving money – eating junk food, smoking, and drinking sugary drinks or alcohol are all expensive habits. fewer health problems – living a healthier lifestyle means a lower risk of developing many ...

What is a healthy life? ›

A healthy lifestyle is a way of living that lowers the risk of being seriously ill or dying early. Not all diseases are preventable, but a large proportion of deaths, particularly those from coronary heart disease and lung cancer, can be avoided.

How can we live a healthy life? ›

Follow these seven tips to increase your energy and live a happier, healthier, more productive life:
  1. Eat nourishing food. ...
  2. Sleep seven to eight hours per night. ...
  3. Keep company with good people. ...
  4. Avoid news overdose. ...
  5. Get regular exercise. ...
  6. Do something meaningful each day.
9 Aug 2022

What are 10 healthy habits for students? ›

10 Healthy Habits
  • Be physically active every day.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and some fruit every day.
  • Get enough sleep and eat breakfast.
  • Switch to low-fat (1% or less) milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Do something healthy every day that makes you feel good.
  • Drink water instead of soda or juice.

What do you need to eat everyday? ›

How to Eat a Healthy Diet
  1. 6 to 8 servings of grains. ...
  2. 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 4 to 6 servings of vegetables. ...
  3. 2 to 3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese. ...
  4. 2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. ...
  5. Use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly.
20 May 2009

What is a good lifestyle? ›

Good nutrition, daily exercise and adequate sleep are the foundations of healthy living. A healthy lifestyle keeps you fit, energetic and at reduced risk for disease. According to WHO, Healthy living is a way of living that helps you enjoy more aspects of your life.

What should a ten year old be eating? ›

Healthy, balanced diet

at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. meals based on starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, pasta and rice (choose wholegrain varieties when possible) some milk and dairy products or alternatives (choose low-fat options where you can)

What are the nutritional requirements for 3 5 year olds? ›

Foods Young Children Need
  • Grain Group: About 3 to 5 ounces of grains per day, preferably half of them whole grains. ...
  • Vegetable Group: 1 to 1½ cups raw or cooked vegetables per day. ...
  • Fruit Group: 1 to 1½ cups fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits per day. ...
  • Milk Group: 2 to 2½ cups per day.
21 Oct 2020

What should a six year old be eating? ›

Feeding Your Child - Ages 6-9
Food GroupSuggested Servings
Milk/Dairy Milk Yogurt Cheese4 daily
Meat/Protein* Beef, Pork, Fish, Poultry Eggs Peanut Butter4 daily
Fruit/Vegetables Fruit Fruit Juice Vegetables3-5 daily
Breads/Cereals Whole grain bread Hot cereal, rice, pasta Ready-to-eat cereal Crackers6 or more daily
2 more rows

Which food is good for kids? ›

Choose seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. Fruits. Encourage your child to eat a variety of fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruits — rather than fruit juice.

What is the best breakfast for kids? ›

Breakfast Ideas
  • eggs.
  • French toast, waffles, or pancakes (try wheat or whole-grain varieties)
  • cold cereal and milk.
  • hot cereal, such as oatmeal or cream of wheat (try some dried fruit or nuts on top)
  • whole-grain toast, bagel, or English muffin with cheese.
  • yogurt with fruit or nuts.

What is a healthy diet for a 10 year old female? ›

They need moderate portions of mostly whole, unprocessed foods that are low in added sugar, sodium and saturated fats. Vegetables and fresh fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, low-fat dairy and healthy fats feature prominently in a healthy diet for kids.

What is a healthy diet for a 12 year old? ›

Daily dietary guidelines for children 12-13 years

Teenagers aged 12-13 years should aim for 2 serves of fruit; 5-5½ serves of vegies; 3½ serves of dairy; 5-6 serves of grains; and 2½ serves of lean meats, eggs, nuts, seeds or legumes.

How do I get my 10 year old to eat healthy? ›

8 Tips and strategies to get kids to eat healthier
  1. Offer choices. ...
  2. Let them make their own plates. ...
  3. Introduce gateway foods. ...
  4. Snack smarter. ...
  5. Give kids a behind-the-scenes look at food. ...
  6. Include your kids while cooking. ...
  7. Don't force it. ...
  8. Lead by example.
1 Apr 2019

How can I eat healthy everyday? ›

8 tips for healthy eating
  1. Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates. ...
  2. Eat lots of fruit and veg. ...
  3. Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish. ...
  4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar. ...
  5. Eat less salt: no more than 6g a day for adults. ...
  6. Get active and be a healthy weight. ...
  7. Do not get thirsty. ...
  8. Do not skip breakfast.

How do you explain healthy eating to a child? ›

  1. Show kids what “eating right” looks like. Explain that they should fill half their plate with fruits and veggies that have nutrients that will help their bodies grow. ...
  2. Avoid calling foods “good” or “bad.” Kids should learn that all foods have a place in their diet. ...
  3. Talk about portion size.
28 Jun 2016

What is an ideal diet for a healthy lifestyle? ›

Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Includes a variety of protein foods such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, nuts, and seeds. Is low in added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.

What age should you start eating healthy? ›

Try to wait until your baby is 6 months old to start solid foods. Choose healthy foods like pureed vegetables, jarred baby foods, and infant cereals. If your baby has eczema or egg allergy, introducing foods containing eggs and peanuts as early as 4 to 6 months can help prevent food allergies later on.

What age group eats the healthiest? ›

This age group of people 25 to 34 years old appeared to be the most health conscious according to the study. 51 percent said they were always looking for healthy food while shopping, which is a step up from older cohorts as well as younger people of the Generation Z (18-24 years old).

Which fruit is good for child? ›

Fresh fruits
  • Apples, bananas, peaches, nectarines, pears (thinly sliced for safety)
  • Cherries, grapes, plums (sliced or smushed and pitted)
  • Orange or grapefruit sections (cut into pieces)
  • Strawberries.
11 Aug 2022


1. How to Create a Healthy Plate
(My Doctor - Kaiser Permanente)
2. Healthy food tips for school children
(Knowledge Life)
3. A healthy diet, a healthier world
(World Health Organization (WHO))
4. How the food you eat affects your brain - Mia Nacamulli
5. How to promote healthy eating in your early childhood service.
(Nutrition Australia)
6. Balanced Diet | #aumsum #kids #science #education #children
(It's AumSum Time)

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