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Health and Nutrition

M&S Health & Nutrition

Our Top Tips

Our Top Tips

Top Tips

Sometimes it can be a struggle getting children to eat what you would like them to eat. Here we have a number of tips which you could try to help make sure they are eating a varied and balanced diet which they need to grow and develop healthily.

1) Foods that are a good source of vitamins and minerals


Nutrient Good sources Tips

Calcium

Milk, hard cheese, canned sardines, tofu, soya mince, chickpeas, white bread

Cheese scones are a great snack. Make a smoothie with plain yogurt, a banana, and a few strawberries.

Iron

Canned sardines, pilchards, tuna. Lean red meat, Liver pate, dark meat of poultry. Smaller amounts of less well absorbed iron are also found in breakfast cereals, eggs, beans and lentils, dried fruit and greens.

Mash a can of sardines with some reduced fat cream cheese and a squirt of lemon juice for a tasty dip or filler for baked potatoes or sandwiches. A handful of dried apricots for a tasty snack.

Zinc

Lean red meat, Liver/ pate, Quorn, Canned Sardines, Milk

If kids avoid red meat make sure they have seafood, dairy products. Or for older kids sprinkle pumpkin seeds over cereals, yogurts and salads.

Vitamin A

Liver pate, eggs, dairy products, carrots, mango, pawpaw, eggs, red and yellow peppers, butternut squash, spinach

Slice up peppers to munch. Roast squashes and carrots or make into soups.

Vitamin C

Oranges, mangoes, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli, peppers, cabbages, peas, grapefruit, nectarines, cauliflower. Melon, potato and sweet potato, satsumas, spinach, swede

Make mashed potato even better by adding cooked finely chopped greens or swede. If children don't like cooked cauliflower let them try them it raw.

Vitamin D

Sunshine is the best source. There are not many food sources, but oily fish and eggs contain some.

A boiled egg with toast fingers still remains a nursery favourite whatever the age!

B Vitamins

There are lots of these but foods made from grains such as cereals, rice and bread are a good source. Milk provides riboflavin and pork thiamin.

Use wholegrain or fortified breakfast cereals for children with milk or yogurt.

Folic acid

Beef, liver, spinach, broccoli, oranges, peas, tofu

Make a simple stir fry with strips of lean steak and broccoli.

Omega 3

Oily fish such as slamon, trout, makerel, herring, sardines and pilchards. Omega 3 milk and eggs

Swapping meat for oily fish for dinner or normal eggs for omega 3 eggs are easy ways to boost the amount of omega 3 in your child's diet

Click here for further information on vitamins and minerals

2) Healthy snacks

As growing children are very active but have small stomachs - snacks are a great way of topping up their energy levels in between meals. Keep healthy snacks handy to save you from reaching for treats which are high in fat, salt or sugar. Here are some of our healthy snacking ideas you may want to try:

  • A child sized handful of nuts or seeds
  • Glass of milk
  • Yogurt
  • Slice of cheese
  • Any vegetable- carrot sticks, pepper batons, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas
  • Any fruit- dried, fresh or canned in juice
  • Fruit smoothies made with yogurt or milk- you can also freeze to make a great cooling treat in summer!
  • Crackers, fruit loaf, tea cake, crumpets
  • Popcorn

3) Develop a healthy lifestyle as a family

By taking a whole family approach to adopting a healthy lifestyle will mean you as parents are setting as a good example.

Try to do as much activity and sit down to eat as a family as often as possible. Not only will this help to improve the health of your whole family- it will also mean you are spending more quality time together too.

4) Make sure your kids eat breakfast

Eating breakfast means your child will have a great start to the day and help to keep them fuelled until lunchtime and less likely to want to snack on high fat and sugar snacks before lunch. Some research also suggests that school children who start their day with breakfast perform better than school children who don't.

Cereals are a good choice as they contain plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre- and if served with milk or yogurt also supplies calcium too.

5) Encourage eating at least 5 a day

Offering your children a range of fruit and vegetables will help provide them with a range of nutrients essential for their health. To make sure they are getting a good mix try giving them a rainbow of different colours. As a guide, a portion of fruit or vegetables is the amount that can fit into their hands. Getting them to eat them however is not always as easy as it seems. Here we have our top tips on encouraging children to eat more fruit and vegetables...

  1. Give it to them every day - research shows that the more often they see it on their plate, the more likely they are to eat it. Don't give up just because they turned their nose up at it once.
  2. Be inventive - add dried fruit to casseroles, grated courgettes and carrots to Bolognese sauce or chop them up into interesting shapes.
  3. Be sneaky - chop it up small and put it wherever you can- for example adding extra vegetables to a tomato sauce for pasta
  4. Be wily - when they are glued to the TV, present them with a bowl of grapes, carrot sticks, or dried apricots. Don't ask if they want it, just hand it to them.
  5. Make it interesting- let them have a say in the types of fruit or vegetables you buy when you go shopping and get them to help you prepare it.
  6. Remember tinned fruits and vegetable also count towards your childs 5 a day- tinned fruit canned in juice can make a great dessert or healthy snack. You can also make smoothies, milk shakes and lollies using seasonal fruit, and transform boring bought soups with grated seasonal vegetables added just before the end.

6) Watch the amount of salt they eat

As children are smaller they will need less salt than an adult. Eating too much salt as a child can mean they develop a taste for salty foods. Eating too much salt can increase your child's risk of having high blood pressure and heart disease later on in life.

The daily recommended maximum amount of salt for children is based on their age- but it is much better for their health if they have less.

  • Under 1 year- less than 1g of salt a day
  • 1 to 3 years - 2 g salt a day
  • 4 to 6 years - 3g salt a day
  • 7 to 10 years - 5g salt a day
  • 11 and over - 6g salt a day

The amount of salt which children are recommended to have is very small- an adults maximum of 6g is only about a teaspoonful- so it's not necessary to add salt to any of your child's food. It can also be very easy for them to have too much if they eat lots of food which has been processed- so remember to always check the label.

All of our Children's meals have been developed to salt guidelines and many foods have none added at all. This helps ensure that children can enjoy eating from this range without having too much salt, and parents can relax knowing that the food tastes great and is good for their kids.

Click here for more information and useful tips on reducing salt

7) Don't give up on fussy eaters

It is important to keep your child's diet as varied as possible as this will help to ensure they are eating a good mix of nutrients. Sometimes this can be very hard, especially if your child refuses to try new foods!

  • Be patient and persistent- it can take between 10- 14 times before a child becomes used to flavours and textures- so don't give up! Try not to force feed foods or make a fuss and try again on another day.
  • Make it fun- taking them to a farm to learn about where their food comes from, chopping food up into different shapes or presenting food in a fun way may make meal times more exciting.
  • Get your child involved- ask them to choose foods while shopping or before cooking, laying the table and helping to prepare the food - why not try one of our childrens recipes?
  • Eating food as a family- children like to copy so if they see you eating your greens they may be more willing to try their own!
  • Watch how much they are drinking or snacking on before their meals. Sometimes they may not be being fussy - it may just be too full to eat