Nutrition

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate’s main role in the body is to provide energy. Certain foods are considered natural carbohydrates and other foods processed carbohydrates. Examples of natural carbohydrate foods are fruit and vegetables. Although some of these foods can contain high levels of natural sugars they also contain other nutrients, which are of benefit to the human body such as vitamins and minerals. Another type of carbohydrate-processed foods, which contain added sugar, are foods like fizzy drinks, some cereals like frosties, coco pops etc. Sugar is found naturally in a lot of our foods therefore it is not nexcesary to add further sugar to our meals.

Children and parents are recommended to consume complex and natural carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and whole grain cereals (porridge) and wholegrain breads. We should focus our carbohydrate food intake on foods with LOW - MEDIUM glycemic index rather then a HIGH glycemic index. Examples below:

Low – Medium Glycemic High Glycemic     
Porridge Table sugar
Vegetables Processed cereals
Sweet potatoes Fizzy drinks     
Kidney beans/chick peas Ice Cream
Yogurts potatoes
Salad  - spinage, rocket etc   White pasta     
Banana  
High fibre bread with oats  
   

Fibre is a complex carbohydrate and its role in the body is to assist food through the digestive tract, providing bulk and aiding in the elimination of food waste products. Fibre can be found In wholegrain products such as citrus fruits, apples and whole grain foods such as porridge, bran and brown bread with oats. Fibre may help protect against cancer, constipation, diabettes 2 and elevated cholestoral levels.

Protein and Fats

The main role of Protein in the body is to make our muscles stronger. Meat, fish and dairy produce is the primary source of protein with beans and nuts also providing a smaller source. Organic is always the best option due to the natural upbringing of animals and food.
Nuts and seeds are a natural source of protein and healthy fats. They can be added to salads, yogurts and smoothies to make them more desirable for kids. A handful of a mixture of nuts and seeds is plentiful per day.
A lot of animal produce will contain a certain amount of saturated fat i.e milk, meat, eggs etc. This type of fat is required for a healthy child however a mixture of meat, fish and none meat dishes is desirable. Unsaturated fats such as avocados, fish, seeds and olive oil are all healthy fats the human body requires. Fat is an important element of our daily diet as it makes up 25- 30% of our calorie intake.

  • Among its many functions fat is important for
  • Delivering oxygen to the lungs,
  • Growth and development
  • Healthy hormones.
  • Assisting in wound healing
  • Formation of new cells
  • Formation of hair and skin
  • Assist in Satiety Control

Top tips

A fresh bowel of fruit in the kitchen. Kids like a variety of different kinds of fruit to pick from.
Smoothies are a great solution to increasing kids intake of vegetables. They can be fun when making different types of smoothies and exploring different fruit and vegetables.
Every child should have their own water bottle so they can fill it up with water when at school or at their friends.
Fish needs to be cooked with the right sauces or spices to make it palatable for kids.
Limit portion sizes.

Physical Activity

A healthy nutrition plan should be followed by sufficient amount of physical activity. All children and young people should be active at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 60 minutes every day.  The activity should consist of muscle & bone strengthening and flexibility through out the week. Hopping, skipping and jumping are all forms of bone strengthening and muscle strengthening games would consist of climbing walls; sit ups, swinging on bars etc.

Hydration and water facts for kids

Hydration is particularly important for children as they have higher water requirements in relation to their body weight than adults.

Kids don’t always recognise the early stages of thirst, which can make them particularly vulnerable to becoming dehydrated, especially during times that can drive up their body fluid losses, for example when they are playing sport or during warm weather.

Dehydration, even if only mild, can cause tiredness, headaches, lack of concentration, reduced mental performance and dry skin.

This page looks at what kids should drink and how much they are drinking. It also gives some top tips on keeping kids healthily hydrated as well as some interesting facts about water.

What should kids drink?

The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) gives guidelines for the types of fluid to drink, and water is the only fluid which they recommend drinking “plenty” as it hydrates without calories or risking harm to teeth.

How much should kids be drinking?

The amount a child needs to drink as it can vary greatly, due to factors including age, gender, the weather and how much physical activity they do.  It is advised that kids aged 4-13 aim to drink approximately 6-8 glasses of fluid a day in addition to the water included in the food in their diet. Younger kids need relatively small drinks (e.g. 150 ml serving).

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has developed the below set of fluid requirements for children of different ages.

Gender Age group Amount of fluid from drinks and food (litres/day)1 Amount of fluid from drinks only (litres/day)2
Boys and girls 4 to 8 years 1.6 1.1-1.3
Girls 9 to 13 years 1.9 1.3-1.5
Boys 9 to 13 years 2.1 1.5-1.7

Top tips for keeping kids healthily hydrated

  • Children should aim to hydrate with plain, natural drinks that are unsweetened and free from additives.
  • Starting in the morning with their breakfast, kids should aim to have 6-8 drinks per day which should ideally be water, milk, fruit juice/ vegetable juices.
  • Children taking part in sports or exposed to warm weather need to replenish the lost fluids by drinking more water.
  • Research suggests adequately hydrated children may perform better in school.
  • Repeated tastings of water may help kids to develop a taste for water.
  • To make it more fun you could add ice, a slice of lemon or a curly straw.
  • For more information download the Hydration for Children fact sheet.

Water facts for kids

  • When we are born water makes up about 75% of our body weight.
  • Water makes up about 60% of the body weight of older children and adults.
  • Water is constantly being lost from our body (when we go to the toilet, when we breathe, when we sweat) so if we don’t drink enough we become dehydrated.
  • Water helps our body in many ways:
    1. It carries nutrients to cells;
    2. It helps to remove waste products from our major organs;
    3. It helps us to control our body temperature.
  • Water is found in all drinks and also in food. For example water is in orange juice and milk; it is also in fruits and vegetables. It is even in cheese!
  • People can survive for up to 50 days without food but only a few days without drinking water.
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