Award-winning baby and child nutritionist, Charlotte Stirling-Reed works with brands, celebrities and parents to share positive, evidence-based advice on giving children a healthy start in life. Here, she gives her top tips on how to fit 5 A DAY in your child’s diet.
For adults, one portion of fruit or vegetables is usually around 80g. For children, a 5 A DAY portion should be around the size of a child’s hand.
It can seem like a difficult task to fit at least five portions of fruit and vegetables in your child’s diet – especially if they often turn their nose up at fruit and vegetables – but there are plenty of ways you can get their 5 A DAY in successfully.
To encourage more fruit and vegetables, think about serving them regularly – children often like what they are familiar with, so making it a “normal” part of their day and mealtimes can help.
How to offer 5 A DAY to kids?
Start breakfast with at least one portion of fruit or vegetables. This could be a handful of berries on cereal, chopped banana on toast with nut butter, or even some vegetable frittatas if you’re feeling fancy.
Add one 150ml glass of fruit juice for an extra portion – but make sure you’re serving it with a meal to protect your child’s teeth, and only one glass a day counts as a portion of fruit or vegetables!
Try to include a piece of fruit in their lunchbox at school – vary what you’re offering so that your child doesn’t get bored with the same old piece of fruit. There are plenty of ways of jazzing up lunchboxes; try chopping fruit so that they are ready to eat and adding a squeeze of lemon for some extra flavour.
Include vegetables or salad whenever you offer a sandwich, such as slices of tomato, chopped cucumber, or lettuce.
Mix in frozen vegetables, such as peas and carrots, or offer them on the side of the meal. Adding vegetables to your evening meals can be so easy – think squash into spaghetti Bolognese, aubergine into lasagnes, or spinach into a curry! This is such an easy way to add nutrients to your child’s meals.
You could try making a basic salad to go with dinner each day too.
Serve with beans! Chickpeas, red kidney beans, black-eyes beans, and white cannellini beans – you name it – they count as one portion of vegetables and are great for adding a source of plant-based protein to your child’s dinner. Try using kidney beans in place of meat in a chilli or even offering beans on toast!
It’s so easy to offer snacks that aren’t very nutrient-rich to children, like crisps, biscuits, and cakes. Ideally snacks should also be nutrient-rich options to ensure that children have enough calories and nutrients to grow and develop well. For example, vegetable sticks and dips, such as houmous and guacamole, can work well.
Fruit salads with plain yogurt, or just a piece of chopped fruit drizzled in nut butter, can go down well as a snack.