The food pyramid is a guide which makes it easier to see what you should be including in your child’s diet to make it healthy and nutritious.
The idea is to eat more foods from the larger shelves and less from the smaller shelves.
Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods: 6+ servings
Fruit and vegetables: 5+ servings
Milk and dairy foods: 3 servings
Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein: 2 servings
Fats/ oils/ sweets: Maximum 2 servings per day but only in small amounts
Top shelf foods high in fat, sugar and salt: Maximum 1 serving per day
Starchy foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, oats, rice, pasta and potatoes provide energy which is needed for growth and activity. This group also provide B vitamins, carbohydrates, fibre and in certain foods, iron and calcium (in fortified bread and breakfast cereals).
Fruits and vegetables are a really important part of the diet and provide fibre and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Nutritionally, frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good as the fresh version. You can also use dried and tinned varieties but limit those with added salt or sugar. Fruit juices and smoothies are also included in this group.
Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk are an essential part of the diet. These foods are an excellent source of calcium, which is needed for bone development, as well as providing protein, zinc, vitamin A and vitamins B2 and B12. If the family prefer skimmed milk, remember it is not suitable for children under 5 years. Low fat mlk is not suitable for children under 2 years. If dairy foods have to be avoided, use calcium and vitamin D enriched soya products instead.
Meat, fish, eggs and beans are great non-dairy sources of protein. These foods are also a great source of iron, zinc and vitamin D. Oily fish (e.g. salmon, trout and fresh tuna) is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of vitamins A and D. Alternative sources of protein and iron include beans and pulses such as baked beans, butter beans kidney beans, lentils and chick peas (and foods made from them e.g. dahl and hummus). Other foods such as eggs, tofu and soya mince are also nutrient rich meat alternatives. It’s a good idea to serve these foods with another food or a drink that is rich in vitamin C as this will help with iron absorption.
Fats, sugars and oils should be consumed only in small amounts. They don’t provide many nutrients and if eaten in excess, can cause obesity, high blood pressure and dental cavities.
It’s also important that your child drinks at least eight glasses of water per day.