By Raising Children Network
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To help your children develop a healthy lifestyle, model healthy choices yourself:

  • Eat nutritious food.
  • Don’t overdo it on junk food.
  • Stay active.
 

Try these ideas to get a healthy balance of good and bad fats in your family’s daily diet.

  1. Breastfeeding gives newborns all the essential fatty acids in the correct proportions. If your baby is on formula, check with your doctor that it has an appropriate amount of essential fatty acids (the nutrients in most formulas are very similar to breastmilk). Rice and soy milks are not advisable for newborns.
     
  2. Give children full-fat foods when they first start on solids. Littlies need to get energy for their big growth spurts from high-fat foods. Reduced-fat dairy does not have enough vitamins and energy for children under two. Skim milk and dairy products should be given only to children aged five years and older.
     
  3. Offer some reduced-fat milk and dairy products after children turn two, as long as they are getting enough total energy from a wide variety of foods.
     
  4. Introduce low-fat meals for toddlers and preschoolers. Use a wide variety of foods, and try to include a range of fats in your child’s diet. This is the age to start developing habits and food choices for life.
     
  5. Omega-3 fat occurs naturally in breastmilk, and is added to formula. Once children are no longer breastfeeding or formula-feeding, offer foods such as tinned fish and vegetable oils to ensure they get enough omega-3.
     
  6. Review your family’s daily diet. How many foods do you eat that contain good fats? How many contain bad fats? You should try to limit your intake of saturated fats to about 10% of your daily diet.
     
  7. Review the nutrition information panels (NIPs) on your packaged food. The NIPs must list saturated fats separately from total fats. This will help you work out how much saturated fat your family consumes daily.
     
  8. Remove food with bad fats from your family diet. These include fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy products, butter, deep-fried foods, commercially produced cakes and biscuits, snack foods and lollies. Replace them with foods with good fats – lean meat, low-fat dairy, margarine made from polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables. For treats, try our carrot and muesli mini muffins or our strawberry ice blocks.
     
  9. When you’re shopping, choose foods that have the Heart Foundation’s Tick. In general, foods with the Tick have met strict standards for saturated fat and trans fat. The Tick helps you ensure you’re making a healthy choice.
     
  10. Set a good example for your children by making healthy food choices yourself. Choose foods with good fat like olive oil, tinned fish, nuts and avocados. Limit processed food.
     
  11. Try to limit ‘sometimes’ food to once or twice a week. Sometimes food might include takeaway foods, snack and junk foods, cakes and pastries, and ice cream and chocolate.
     
  12. Have fun with food! Trying a range of things can be entertaining and creates a healthy attitude to food.

Video Encouraging children to eat well

There are lots of ways you can encourage your children to eat a balanced diet, low on bad fat and high on healthy choices. For example, one dad in this video pretends green vegies are special treats – ‘Broccoli is so nice ... you can’t have any. It’s only for the grown-ups!’

In this video, you’ll hear lots of ideas from other parents about getting children to eat more of the healthy stuff. Their tips include eating the same things as your children, eating together, and involving children in meal preparation. The video also covers how much food children should eat and concerns about weight.

 
 
 
 
  • Last updated or reviewed 14-01-2010