The British Nutrition Foundation explains that a child’s diet should consist of a variety of foods in the proportions given in the Eatwell Guide. This guide states that children should aim to eat at least five servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day in addition to starches, milk and cheeses, beans, legumes, eggs and fish, oils and unsaturated spreads and a small amount of fat. All this is accompanied by at least six to eight glasses of water or liquids a day.
The NHS states that children aged 7 to 10 also need lots of energy and nutrients because they are still growing. Hobson backs this up, telling Express.co.uk that child nutrition is about ‘growth and nutrition’ rather than preventing disease risk, which is what an adult diet focuses more on.
He goes on to add, “The problem is often that children often eat small portions of food, so you really have to try to get them nutritious foods. These are foods rich in vitamins and minerals essential for growth.
“It includes vitamin D, vitamin A, omega-3 and omega-6 are really important, so just making sure you’re getting a good quality diet is just making sure you’re getting a good quality diet. to support brain health, bone health and immunity.
Continuing to explain the importance of omega-3s and omega-6s, in particular, Hobson explains that omega-3s are a group of fatty acids that includes PA and DHA, found in oily fish, and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), found primarily in vegetable oils. While the essential omega-6 fatty acid is called linolenic acid (LA), which is found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and plant-based spreads.
“Omega-3s and omega-6s are necessary for the growth and development of children,” Hobson points out. “Helping to maintain and maintain normal cholesterol levels is also important, especially since these things can support us later in life.”
A strong advocate for children, especially getting their omega-3s and omega-6s, Hobson has partnered with FLORA, a dairy butter alternative that can help parents save money and “add a additional flavor to a variety of daily meals”.
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He said, “FLORA is a great way for kids to get more omega-3s and omega-6s. FLORA also contains vitamin A which contributes to normal vision. Fats aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K.”
Supporting a profitable brand, such as FLORA, when asked for his own personal tips and tricks to help parents feeling the pressure of the current cost of living crisis, Hobson suggested the following.
“You want to look at your essentials first, then new ways to cook. Explore things like canned foods, beans, legumes, lentils, all of which are a really good source of protein. Meat is very expensive , so save it for your Sunday roasts and think of ways to reuse that meat throughout the week.
“Always trying to get your five a day is really important. There’s nothing wrong with canned or frozen fruits and vegetables, and they’re a little less expensive. Look at discount foods. Sometimes you can buy discount berries for half price and bag them and freeze them.
“It’s just about thinking of new ways to cook and store food, and finding new ways to use cheaper versions of the foods you love to save pennies.”
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Overcoming the next hurdle in terms of child feeding is the dreaded “fussy eater”, to which Hobson also provided some advice on how parents can overcome this.
“You have to provide the children with food little and often,” Hobson begins. “You also need to not scold them for not eating something, not making a fuss about it. It’s also really important that you sit down with your kids as often as possible to eat and instill eating behaviors from the start. younger age.
Hobson mentions the importance of “positive social modelling” which refers to research that suggests that parents who sit with their children to eat or do general things will influence their children to copy certain behaviors and adopt specific traits. .
He goes on to say, “Positive social modeling is an effective way to promote healthier eating in children, especially by observing the eating behaviors of adults and peers. Research shows that fruit and vegetable consumption in children increased after watching adults and their peers consume such foods.
“There are plenty of health hacks for adults to do with kids or for kids to do with their friends that can help them explore the fun side of healthy eating this summer, without spending a fortune.”
In collaboration with FLORA, Hobson has created the following “healthy and economical food tips for summer”, which can be used all year round if necessary:
Break the fast
Breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day and sets kids up for a day of activity and learning. Instead of boxed breakfast cereals, which can be expensive and high in sugar, make a refreshing and nutritious batch of oats overnight with just four ingredients.
Combine oats, apple juice, dairy-free milk, and lime juice and soak overnight. Not only is it high in fiber, but these ingredients also contain essential nutrients to support the growth and development of children, such as iron. And it will usually cost just over £1 for five servings. It’s a great way for kids to explore interesting and economical toppings like grated apple or canned fruit.
Lemon, lime or homemade orangeade
It’s a refreshing (and economical) drink to make with your kids in the sun. Not only is it a good source of vitamin C, but you can also limit the amount of sugar used. Besides being tasty, save the skin and place it in jars to catch pesky flies around the house, which is a great way to educate kids about the usefulness of food waste and nature. . If you’re not thirsty, slicing a whole orange as a refreshing snack for your kids helps them get more vitamin C from fruit.
Try brightening up the water with fun ice cubes made from berries, cucumber, fruit pieces and mint leaves. Choose fruits that are in season like peaches, apples, and pears, or use canned or frozen fruits to cut costs. Adults can make the most of it by using chopped cucumber ice cubes and fresh herbs to make a gin and tonic or a summer cocktail! You can even try growing your own herbs with the kids, like mint and basil, before adding them to your fun ice cubes to create a refreshing and different flavored drink.
Banana Yogurt Fruit Pops
It’s a tasty treat to enjoy with the kids in the heat of summer. Peel and cut the large bananas in half and stick them on a wooden stick. Dip them in your favorite flavored yogurt then place them on parchment paper and freeze. You can make them in batches to save time and it’s cheaper and healthier than packaged ice cream.
To get kids exploring and eating more fruits and vegetables, arrange vegetable bowls and choose seasonal vegetables to save costs, such as zucchini, carrots and tomatoes, to create necklaces, rings and bracelets they can eat throughout the day. daytime. Use what’s left over to make tasty and healthy veggie fritters to eliminate waste.
Don’t Get Mad About Snacks
Batch-cooking healthy snacks with store cupboard essentials is a great, cost-effective way to keep kids satiated during school vacations. Making your own low sugar flapjack recipe using bulk bags of rolled oats and dairy alternatives, such as FLORA, will help your kids get omega-3s and omega-6s in their diets, and baking is also a fun activity for the whole family. which entertains everyone with a tasty reward at the end.
Fill up on plant-based protein
Replace animal protein with canned beans, legumes and chickpeas when preparing lunch and dinner recipes, such as curries and salads. Not only are these foods a good source of plant-based protein and provide essential nutrients and minerals, including fiber, zinc, iron and magnesium, but they also help reduce cooking costs. Try in batches to make a delicious Moroccan couscous salad, filled with vegetables and chickpeas. This recipe can also be replicated with most vegetables to avoid food waste.
Rob Hobson is a consultant nutritionist for Flora and shares a selection of affordable summer food health hacks for kids, focusing on why omega 3 and 6 are essential for growing kids.