Feb-Mar 2018

Healthy Peterborough

What Should Children Be Eating?

The Eatwell Guide shows us what a balanced and healthy diet looks like. It illustrates the amount of different types of foods to eat over a day or week. Children aged 5 and older should follow the Eatwell Guide along with adults. Children aged 2 to 5 years should start to follow the guide and eat the same foods as the rest of the family.

Eating well as a whole family will influence children to make healthier food choices. As children become more independent in their food choices, it is important for parents and carers to guide them to make healthy choices and establish good habits for life.

Five main types of foods to include as part of a healthy diet

Encourage children to follow the Eatwell Guide most of the time, and only have high fat, sugar and salt foods as occasional treats, not every day.

Eat more!

Fruit and vegetables - Aim for at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day. One portion is about the amount that fits in to the palm of a child’s hand.

  • Apples, bananas and other whole pieces of fruit make a quick snack. Vegetable sticks are easy too, try sticks of pepper, carrot or celery.
  • A glass of fruit/vegetable juice or a smoothie counts, although this should be limited to no more than 150ml in a day.
  • Include at least one portion of fresh, frozen or tinned vegetables with main meals.
  • Add frozen berries or tinned fruit (in fruit juice not syrup) to plain natural yoghurt for a healthy pudding.

Fibre – Children’s intakes of fibre are low. Fibre helps us to feel fuller for longer and helps towards a healthy weight. It also reduces risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

  • Choose high fibre breakfast cereals e.g. Weetabix, shredded wheat or porridge.
  • Have wholemeal or granary bread or start with a 50:50 bread.
  • Choose wholegrain, wholemeal and brown varieties of pasta and rice. Try mixing these with white varieties to first introduce children to them.
  • Encourage children to eat the skins on boiled or jacket potatoes.
  • Add beans and pulses to dishes e.g. kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas.

Oily fish – It is recommended to eat one portion (140g) of oily fish a week, which most children do not achieve.  Oily fishes include; salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring and fresh tuna.

Eat less!

Sugar - Children eat more than three times more sugar than the recommended amount every day. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain. Unhealthy weight increases the risk of serious illnesses including type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Regularly having a lot of sugar can also cause tooth decay.

For ideas to cut back on sugar visit Change4Life Sugar Smart to help you to reduce sugar in your child’s diet.

Swap These

For These

Sugary breakfast cereals

Plain cereal & plain porridge.

Fizzy drinks & juice drinks

Water, reduced fat milk & juice drinks (no added sugar).

Sugary yoghurts

Plain yoghurt with fruit.

Cakes, pastries & biscuits

Unsalted rice cakes, plain popcorn, fruited teacake & toast.

Sweets, chocolate & ice-cream

Sugar-free jelly.

Saturated (Unhealthy) Fat - Children have too much unhealthy fat in their diet. This fat can build up and lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers later on.

Swap These

For These

Whole milk

Lower fat milk (e.g. semi-skimmed or 1%).

Full fat butter, cheese & yoghurts

Lower fat varieties of these dairy products.


Low fat mince.

Cakes, pastries, chocolate & biscuits

Unsalted rice cakes, plain popcorn, fruited teacake & toast.

Salt - More than half of children are eating too much salt. Three quarters of the salt we eat is already added to the food we buy. This can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease in adulthood.  

Swap These

For These

Crisps & salted nuts

Unsalted rice cakes, plain popcorn & unsalted nuts.

Sausages, bacon & ham

Reduced salt, unsmoked varieties.

Pizza & cheese

More vegetable or chicken toppings with less cheese.

Sauces e.g. gravy, ketchup brown sauce & soya sauce

Lower salt sauces. Flavour food with herbs, spices & pepper instead.

The free Food Smart app from Change4Life helps the whole family make healthy choices wherever you are. Download it now and scan foods and drinks to reveal their sugar, fat and salt content.


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Healthy Peterborough is led by:
  • Peterborough City Council
  • Peterborough Pharmacies
  • Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust