A healthy diet offers a myriad of benefits for your growing child:
  • Fuel to help deliver a steady supply of energy over the day
  • Nutrients to support their immune systems especially coming into the winter months
  • Essential fats for brain development and growth
Here are some ideas on how to incorporate the right balance into your child’s diet:
Steady as she goes:
Maintaining a steady blood sugar during the day is crucial for mood, energy and concentration. If blood sugar levels are stable, the brain will get a more constant supply of fuel, thus maintaining energy and mood and a better sleep pattern. If the diet is full of refined carbohydrates (white bread and rice) and sugar and low in protein, energy levels can dip and mood swings are more likely. The top tips for maintaining a steady blood sugar include:
  • Replace ‘white’ carbohydrates with ‘wholegrain’ versions, e.g. bread, pasta, rice, cereals, porridge oats to increase nutrients and fibre for your child.
  • Avoid sugary cereals and aim for those with less than 5g of sugar per 100g, such as Weetabix and porridge. Sweeten these cereals naturally with banana, berries or a little dried fruit if necessary.
  • Choose natural yogurt over fruit yogurt (or simply mash some strawberries into yogurt to make a ‘home-made’ version).
  • Include healthy snacks during the morning and afternoon to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Offer fruit, nuts and seeds, wholegrain crackers with hummus, soup or other healthy alternatives rather than sweets and biscuits.
  • Only offer water and milk of choice (organic cow’s or alternatives).
  • Incorporate plenty of good protein such as fish, some organic meat (in moderation), eggs, quinoa, nuts, ground seeds, or natural yogurt into every meal and snack to help slow down the digestion of food.
Eat a rainbow:
Make the diet as colourful as possible with carrot sticks, beetroot, butternut squash and broccoli to boost vitamins and minerals. This will all help to ensure that your child is getting the nutrients required for a healthy and effective immune system. If your child isn’t so keen on fruit and vegetables, here are some ideas to help encourage them:
  • Work with flavours that your child likes. If they love lemon, consider making ‘lemony’ broccoli, with a squeeze of lemon and some olive oil added after cooking.
  • If your child likes peanut butter or cream cheese, consider grating carrot into it and adding raisins. Serve with sliced apple and oatcakes.
  • Smoothies are a super way of incorporating nutrients into the diet. Try a simple berry one which includes 150g mixed berries, 1 kiwi, ½ ripe avocado, juice of 1 lime and 400ml of milk, preferably Koko coconut milk, or an unsweetened almond milk.
  • Soups are a fantastic way of incorporating vegetables into the diet and can be given interesting names; ‘hulk soup’ (for a pea and leek one), or ‘orange zing’ for carrot and orange, or butternut squash.
  • Continue to offer fruit and vegetables, without putting pressure on your child to eat them all. Just encourage them to taste. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time, and bravery, to get used to the colour, texture and taste.
The right fats:
Current evidence suggests that consumption of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, particularly DHA, may enhance cognitive performance relating to learning, cognitive development, memory and speed of performing cognitive tasks. The best way to incorporate omega 3 fats into the diet is by eating oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and trout, either roasted in the oven with some vegetables, or in a nice fish pie. Vegetarian sources include ground flaxseed, sprinkled on porridge or in smoothies and soups, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
Making changes won’t happen overnight, so maybe choose one idea per week and give your child the time to adapt. 
Nutritional Therapist