What should my pre-schooler eat in a day?
Ah, the pre-schooler; the age group known for being notoriously picky…
 
At two-and-a-half your little one might have been sampling blue cheese and snacking on olives. However, after a year or so, the toddler stage comes to an end - as does your child’s adventurous palette.‘The beige diet’, as many seasoned parents call it, can last years if you let it. Bread and pasta are all they want to eat. They beg for treats, refuse anything green and mealtimes become a warzone.
 
To avoid this struggle as best you can, look towards the new guidelines on what our pre-schoolers should be eating. Healthy Ireland has published sample meal-plans to guide us when it comes to making sure our pre-schoolers are getting everything they need for a healthy, balanced diet:
 
Sample Meal Plan: 3-year-old
 
Breakfast:
  • 1 Egg
  • 100ml of unsweetened orange juice
  • 1 slice of wholemeal bread toasted with 5g spread
Mid-Morning Snack
  • ll pot (47g) fromage frais
  • 5-6 raspberries, cut in halves
Mid-Afternoon Snack
  • 25g cheese         
  • 1 rice cake        
Lunch:
  • 1 falafel
  • ¼ tub (35g) hummus
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes, cut in quarters
  • ½ small wrap
  • 100ml low fat milk
Dinner
  • 30g salmon
  • ½ cup (30g) carrots       
  • 1 scoop mashed potato
  • 25g rice pudding made with 200ml milk
Evening Snack
  • 100ml milk½
  • slice (30g) banana bread
Sample Meal Plan: 4-year-old
 
Breakfast
  • 200ml milk for cereal and to drink½
  • (40g) sliced banana
  • 1½ wheat biscuits with 100ml milk
Lunch
  • ½ cup (80g) baked beans
  • 1 slice wholemeal bread with 5g spread
  • 1 pot (125g) plain yogurt 
Dinner
  • 30g beef
  • 1 cup (80g) mix of stir-fry vegetables       
  • 1 cup (75g) noodles
  • 100ml unsweetened orange juice
Now, we know what you are thinking; there is a lot of food here….
Even though the menu is full of delicious food’s items, you will notice that the portions are very small. You might also note that the experts are encouraging us to allow our kids to snack up to three times a day. Watch this video to find out why:
 
Margaret O'Neill, HSE, talks about snacks for kids here
 
You will also notice a lack of ‘treat foods’ on this menu…
Unfortunately for us parents, there is an abundance of evidence that points towards avoiding treats. Food high in sugar, fat and salt are linked to many health complications for children. These include crisps, cakes, chocolate, jellies, biscuits and fizzy drinks. A tiny treat once a week is fine, but they should not be part of your child’s regular diet.
 
Top Tip: This has always been a tough one. Try not to let your children become to focussed on treats, instead use alternative incentives for good behaviour, such as toys or days out at the park or beach.
 
You can get more details about healthy eating, at Healthy Ireland here.

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