When it comes to parents considering how to implement a healthy nutritional plan for their children, it can evoke a sense of anxiety.
However, the reality is that we live in a country that has access to top quality produce, whether that be amazing fruit and vegetables, high quality red meats or organic and free range poultry. In Australia we are also surrounded by some of the best seafood in the world.
Here are five top tips to implement a healthy nutritional plan for your teenager:
Do your research
As far as becoming informed on the good and bad of food, we are armed with extensive knowledge by means of the internet. It is always advisable to adhere to websites that have State or Federal Government rules, as they follow local and world guidelines governing what we should be feeding our children
The one thing I believe that I as a parent won’t differ from is the ‘food pyramid’ of what food groups we must eat from and guidelines on how much we should consume of each. My children are still young but I believe having fed them fish, legumes, lots of green leafy vegetables from a young age that they will continue to eat these notoriously ‘fussy foods’ into their teens and beyond. So starting to include these foods from as early as possible is essential.
The importance of breakfast
We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but we are not necessarily told what it should include. It is important that breakfast includes wholemeal, grain, fruit, egg and dairy based meals.
A snack a day…
The food pyramid can also be followed when considering snacks – nuts, fruit, dried fruit and sushi are examples of a few healthy options.
Having a large bowl of in season leaves, sliced vegetables, sometimes fruit and some cheese-based salads in the kitchen, creates the atmosphere of acceptable and easy to reach foods. Also, colourful arrays of fresh and in season whole fruits such as berries or grapes are bound to excite their senses and are also a very satisfying snack or after dinner treat.
What’s for dinner?
Dinner can get a little tricky for parents, but with a little creative thought, you can have your child eating vegetables, such as pumpkin and peas, if you ‘disguise’ them by mashing them. Variety of food is also important, so when it comes to a protein at dinner time it is important to incorporate some beef, lamb, pork, poultry and oily fish into meals four to five times a week. The other two days should be made up of vegetarian, legume, or grain meals.
In 2015 added sugar was removed from the food pyramid and placed with salt as something that should be avoided. This can be very difficult to ingrain in a teenager but with a little moderation and guidance I believe an active, busy physically and mentally teenager can indulge in a little treat. The important word being ‘treat’, this should mean something small and not too often.
Written by Vasilios Donoudis, Head Chef, The Scots College.
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