Many of us have heard the phrase “you are what you eat”; it is undeniable that our health is closely linked to our diet. Yet, choosing nutritious, healthy, and well-balanced meals may be tricky, especially for children. “How many servings of fruit and vegetables should they have a day?” and “does my child need to take vitamin supplements?” are some questions that parents often have.
Having a healthy diet doesn’t have to be a struggle; knowing where to get proper nutrients and striking a balance can be a piece of cake (but remember to have everything in moderation, including cake). Colourful foods are a good way of getting children to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Some common questions you may have on your child’s nutrition:
How can I incorporate more fruit and vegetables into my child’s meals?
Vegetables are an essential part of our diet and contribute to our fibre intake. Getting children to eat vegetables may be a little challenging, but here are some ways to include vegetables in their diet:
Tip: For additional fibre, switch from white rice to wholegrains such as brown rice and wholemeal bread! Wholegrains contain higher fibre content, as well as vitamins B, D, and E.
What are the right portions my child should eat?
Deciding the right portions for a balanced diet is simple, follow the My Healthy Plate! Click here to find out how a balanced meal helps you to stay well-nourished.
Are organic foods a better option for children?
There is no conclusive evidence that organic foods are a healthier option; having a healthy and balanced meal is more important than having organic foods.
Is there a need to give my child vitamin supplements?
Most vitamins and nutrients can be taken in naturally from our diets. Refer below for a fun activity to encourage your child to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables!
Eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables
Besides vitamins, fruit of different colours contain different phytochemicals that are important to our health and nutrition. Research has shown that phytochemicals reduce the risk of chronic diseases and reduce the adverse effects of sun exposure. Excessive consumption of nutritional supplements can have adverse effects on health but eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is a good way to take in important nutrients and phytochemicals. Encourage children to try new fruits by creating colourful fruit salads.
Try out this crossword with your child and find out how you can make a rainbow fruit salad!
(If the fruits above are not readily available, you can use alternatives like apple, watermelon, mango, grapes, etc.)
Tips on making the fruit salad
1. If fresh fruit is not readily available, frozen fruit is a good alternative. Flash-freezing fruits lock in vitamins and nutrients that would have been lost during transportation.
2. After cutting the fruit into smaller pieces, use plain low-fat yoghurt to combine the fruit for a healthier salad dressing. Yoghurt is rich in calcium and other vitamins and minerals.
3. Yoghurt and other dairy products are important sources of calcium and other minerals. Go for plain yoghurts with “live active culture” and “probiotics” on the label as they have lower lactose content.
4. If your child is lactose-intolerant, consider making the salad dressing using plant-based yoghurt (e.g., almond milk yoghurt or soymilk yoghurt).
To ensure your child is taking in enough vitamins and minerals, simply follow My Healthy Plate! Remembering Quarter, Quarter, Half is an easy way to get your child to eat the right proportions of each food group in a well-balanced meal. Here’s how:
• Fill Quarter plate with wholegrains.
• Fill Quarter plate with good sources of protein.
• Fill Half plate with fruit and vegetables.
Apart from what to eat, watch this video to learn the best cooking methods for healthier meals.
This article is written in support of the Health Promotion Board’s health messages.
Written by Loh Huai Chin
Illustrated by Lim Daphne