With the new year on the agenda for thousands of parents and kids around Australia, many mums and dads will be turning their minds to how best to feed their children.
And now, Sydney-based dietitian Susie Burrell has revealed the perfect day on a plate for kids at school – which will ensure they are functioning at their best physically and mentally.
From the best breakfast you can give them to the ideal after-school snack, FEMAIL shares Susie’s fail-safe guide to a good day of food.
Firstly, Susie said you need to think about breakfast – which the dietitian explained can be difficult, especially as kids get older.
‘As a general rule of thumb something is better than nothing at all which means a slice of toast, piece of fruit or smoothie are all reasonable choices,’ she wrote on her website.
But if you want to give them the best possible breakfast, Susie said you should opt for protein-rich options.
‘In food terms this translates into an eggs, a smoothie with Greek yoghurt or wholegrain toast with a protein-rich spread such as Mayver’s 100 per cent peanut butter,’ she said.
Make sure there is some protein in the breakfast to keep the kids full.
Making a packed lunch is the bane of many parents’ existence.
But there is a simple way you can make sure children are getting everything they need by avoiding too many carbohydrate-rich foods and instead loading their lunchboxes up with protein, good quality carbs and fibre.
‘[Go for] one vegetable such as cucumber, carrot or tomatoes; one piece of fruit; a protein-rich snack such as cheese and crackers, roasted broad beans or yoghurt along with a sandwich or wrap with some cheese, lean meat or tuna,’ Susie said.
The dietitian also explained if kids are older, they might need an extra snack – whether that’s homemade banana bread, popcorn or snack bars.
By the time they finish school, after running around all day, kids might need a little pick-me-up.
But rather than letting them reach for the lollies, chips and chocolate bars, Susie said you need to think along the lines of ‘nutrient-rich yet filling’ options.
You could start with a piece of fresh fruit or some vegetables, and if they’re really hungry, give them a sushi roll with brown rice, a smoothie or a snack plate with veggies, cheese and hummus.
While kids need plenty of food through the day, by the time it comes to the evening, Susie said the key is to keep things simple and light.
‘While we often lean towards pasta and rice-based dishes, unless your child is especially active and involved in sports for more than an hour or more each day, a nightly meal of a palm size serve of protein (fish, chicken, eggs, beans or meat) and 2-3 vegetables or salad is all they need,’ she said.
This could translate to being a piece of white fish with vegetables or some chicken cutlets with salad.
If they complain of being really hungry, add a handful of pasta to keep their dinner balanced.
Lastly, dessert should be small and around 100 calories.
This is less than you think and roughly equates to a piece of fruit, a small yoghurt or a child-sized ice cream.
Many of these clock in between 60 and 100 calories per serve.