57% of parents are unsure of their childrens’ nutritional requirements

In a survey of 1000 parents, we found that 57% are unsure of the Reference Intakes (RI) for children.

When asked what information they would like to see, 61% of parents said Recommended Daily Amounts, nutrition information and guidelines.

“I would find it beneficial if we were provided a recommendation on the nutrition level they need per day to perform well at school. That way I can pack my children’s lunch box better.”

Nutritional therapist and Nutritionist Resource member, Jessica Andersson shares her professional advice on providing a healthy lunchbox for your child.

Children are constantly growing and developing and therefore require good nutrition to help keep them healthy. Focus on trying to develop good eating habits from an early age. Eating the appropriate amounts of food will help your child to maintain a healthy weight and importantly, their energy levels.

RI-Infographic preview

Click to download full infographic.

So what do children need?

Reference Intakes (RIs) are another term for Recommended Daily Amounts (RDAs). These are not intended to be targets, but as an indication of how much energy the average person needs. Every individual is different, therefore this information is a guide only and should not be considered individual advice.

The Eatwell Guide shows how much we should eat from each food group in order to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Fruit and vegetables should make up more than one third of your child’s daily intake. Each day, you should aim to provide them with at least two portions of fruit and three portions of different vegetables a day.

Carbohydrates are starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and rice. This should make up nearly one third of your child’s meal. Choose high-fibre, whole grain varieties, such as brown rice and pasta.

Protein foods such as beans, pulses, fish, eggs, nuts, meat, tofu and houmous should make up just under a quarter of the plate. A variety of these foods are needed two to three times a day and it is suggested you try to include oily fish (such as salmon and mackerel) at least twice a week.

Dairy is an important source of calcium and you should aim for three to four portions each day. Milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are also good sources of protein, though try to choose natural/Greek yoghurt instead of flavoured to reduce added sugar.

Fats are an important part of a balanced diet. Try to include plenty of ‘good fats’ (unsaturated fats) in your child’s diet. These can be found in nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.

As adults, our goal should be to eat no more than 6g salt a day (that’s around a teaspoonful!) and your child needs even less! It is also important you try to keep sugary foods to a minimum. If your child wants a sweet treat, try and encourage fresh fruit with yoghurt instead.

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Ellen Hoggard

Written by Ellen Hoggard

Ellen is the Content Manager for Memiah and writer for Nutritionist Resource and Happiful magazine.
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