Healthy Eating for school children. Introduction. Practising healthy eating should start early on life. This is a very important consideration as it can help reduce the risk of developing certain diseases later in life. Scientific evidence shows that children's weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure tend to progress in adult life. A healthy diet is one which is low in saturated fats, high in starch and dietary fibre and low in sugar.

Children copy what their parents or guardians eat. School friends and teachers can also influence their preferences. Children need to be guided to flavour nutritious food and to learn that healthy eating can be fun and taste good at the same time. Breakfast. This is one of the most important meals of the day as it breaks the child's long overnight fast and helps restore concentration. It also helps to establish healthy eating patterns for the day.

The most practical food items to start the day include fortified low-sugar cereals accompanied by milk, a glass of fresh orange juice and some wholemeal bread, a fresh fruit salad with yoghurt or a bowl of porridge. Lunch. Lunch should provide one third of the child's protein, energy, vitamin, mineral requirements of the day. The simplest and most effective way to plan a healthy lunch is ti include foods from each food groups as shown below: - Breads- Wholemeal sliced. Buns and rolls.

Pitta bread. Wholegrain crackers. Ftir a. Spread with polyunsaturated margarine's. Sandwich fillings- Tuna tomatoes and soft cheese. Ham.

Cheese. Tomato and lettuce. Desserts- All fresh fruits. Homemade biscuits and sponges. Muesli. Yoghurt.

Dinner. Dinner should provide a substantial contribution to a child's nutritional intake. Present a variety of fresh foods, tastes and texture so that they become accustomed to the great diversity of foods. The amount of food required depends on the child's age and amount of physical activity. The balance of nutrients can be achieved by a combination of food from four good food groups. Healthy Snacks.

Hey Mum, I'm hungry! Sound Familiar? Most children run to the refrigerator as soon as they return from school or play. Some parents may believe that snacking is bad for their children, but nothing could be further from the truth. About 20% of a child's energy and nutrients come from snacks. By giving some thought to snack selection, parents can provide their children with a large selection of healthy choices. Fibre. Diets based on highly refined and over processed foods lack much of the natural fibre that children and adults need.

Fibre or roughage is an essential part of a healthy diet. It aids digestion, may reduce cholesterol and can protect against colon cancer. Fast foods. Most children eat "junk foods" like burgers, chips and hot dogs outside the home environment. Children need to be encouraged to eat less of these foods because they are nutritionally incomplete.

With some attention, children can learn how to balance foods within the scope of a healthy daily diet. Burning Calories. It is important that children burn off energy by taking physical exercise to ensure that they develop flexibility and muscular strength. Apart from this, exercise undertaken from an early age can prevent the onset of childhood obesity which has been shown to progress into adult life. For fussy Eaters.

Children can be very difficult and fussy with food. Mothers can worry and become very anxious about this. In most cases there is no need to worry. The problem usually resolves itself with time. It is always best to consult the paediatrician if it continues or is recurrent. Fussy eaters normally require some attention at meal times and should be involved in the choice of the menu.

This way they should find meals more interesting. Sweets - How much is too much? Children can be bombarded with sugar. Children who learn to prefer sweet-tasting foods may face problems as they become older since high-calorie diets can lead to excessive weight gain. Dental problems such as tooth decay and unhealthy gums can be reduced by limiting the amount of sugar containing foods and drinks after meals. If these foods and drinks are consumed it is better to have them as part of a nutritious meal. Moderation is a key.

Conclusion. Providing children with nourishing meals and snacks at home, at school and elsewhere will encourage them to adopt healthy eating habits which will help lay the foundations for healthy adult life.