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Healthy eating guidelines for children

What constitutes a healthy diet is more or less the same for both adults and children. However, there are some differences.

Here is a summary of the main variations, covering food recommendations for children aged six or above unless otherwise stated:

Calorie allowances

Naturally, the calorie allowances for children are lower than for adults, but not as low as you think.

For women the allowance is 2,000 calories, while for men it is 2,500 to 2,800 calories.

Meanwhile, toddlers need around 1,300 calories per day. Each year their needs rise by around 150 calories until their teenage years. By age 7, boys need about 100 calories per day more than girls.

Teenagers need more food as they grow. At 13, boys need 2,400 calories and girls 2,200. At 18, their needs are 2,450 for girls and 3,150 for boys.

These are not hard and fast figures, so it depends on how big your child is and how active they are. The best approach is to cut back a bit if your child is starting to put on fat.

Fruit and vegetables

Both children and adults should eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day. However, the portion sizes are a little different.

For an adult, 80g is sufficient. With children, the correct portion size is enough to fit into the palm of their hand. This way of measuring portions is the simplest to up your child’s intake as they get older.

Oily fish

Oily fish is good for children, as it contains high levels of omega-3, which is important for growth, the development of the nervous system, and the brain.

However, children should not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, or any big predator fish. This is because they may contain high levels of mercury, which is bad for kids whose brain and nervous systems are still developing. Other oily fish are fine, but girls should only eat two portions per week.

Posted by Mark
November 7, 2014
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