Are you eating the right healthy foods? Is there too much dairy in your diet? How much sugar is too much? Surprisingly, the answer to all these healthy eating questions can be found in one simple guide for you to follow: the Eatwell Plate for kids!
What is the Eatwell Plate for Kids?
The Eatwell Plate is a guide to eating well and is designed to help kids get the right amount of food and nutrients in their diet. The Eatwell Plate is divided into five food sections or groups. These five sections work together to instruct you on what food you should consume daily and how much of it.
What are the 5 sections of the Eatwell Plate for Kids?
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Dairy and other alternatives
- Oil and Fats
Fruits and Vegetables:
This section of the Eatwell Plate represents important vitamins and minerals that the body needs for growth and development; this includes vitamin C, A and K as well as calcium, iron and folate. Having fruits and vegetables should be as important as drinking water each day!
The carbohydrates section represents foods that provide energy like sugars, grains, or starchy vegetables. Rice, pasta, and potatoes are all foods rich with carbohydrates. Kids should eat equal amounts of fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates.
The protein section represents foods such as meat, fish or eggs that contain all the essential amino acids needed by our bodies to build muscle mass. Proteins are super important! We need them to help our bones, muscles, and organs to grow.
Dairy and other alternatives:
This section of the Eatwell Plate includes milk products such as cheese or yogurt but also includes non-dairy alternatives like soya milk or almond milk which can be used in place of cow’s milk if needed by someone with an allergy or intolerance to dairy products. This food group helps kids have stronger bones and healthier muscles.
Oil and Fats:
The oil and fats section represents concentrated energy sources found in many foods and are made up of building blocks called fatty acids. Think fatty foods and sugary drinks or treats. The amount of oil and fats you consume should be limited to small amounts. Otherwise, too much in your diet can raise your cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Why is it helpful to follow Eatwell Plate guidelines?
The Eatwell Plate is a great way to understand which foods should be eaten more often and which ones should be eaten less often. It shows you how to balance your diet to make sure you are getting the right amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients every day.
For instance, the Eatwell Plate shows that most of our food should come from the main parts of the plate: wholegrain starchy foods like potatoes, bread and rice; fruits, vegetables and meat.
We should only have small amounts of foods from the other parts of the plate: full-fat dairy products like butter and cream; fried or battered foods such as fish fingers or chicken nuggets; sugary sweets and drinks with added sugar. In excess, these foods contain too much fat and sugar which can lead to weight gain or other health problems if you eat too much of them.
Note for Parents: Encourage your child to follow the Eatwell Plate guidelines from childhood so they can learn what healthy eating looks like from an early age. Eating well will help your children stay active and strong– both mentally and physically!