Healthy Food For Children - Is Your Child Eating Right?

Healthy Food For Children – Is Your Child Eating Right?


As kids progress from precocious toddlers to active youngsters, it gets increasingly difficult for mums and dads to monitor whether their children are consuming a healthy, balanced diet.

Parents cannot be absolutely sure if their pre-schoolers finish up their meals at the childcare centre; by the time the kids reach school age, they start to choose and buy foods that they want to eat. Unfortunately, their preferences often include items which are calorie-rich but nutrient-poor (think chips, sweets and fried foods). In addition, some children may be picky about food – a 2012 study conducted by National University Hospital found that nearly one in two parents in Singapore say their child is a picky eater.

By not having a balanced diet, children may lose out in terms of growth and they could also lack the nutrients essential for optimal physical and mental development. Furthermore, eating habits established in childhood are likely to carry on to adulthood. So it is important for children to develop good dietary habits to help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases when they become adults.

As parents, we should ensure that our children are well-nourished with a balanced and varied diet that can supply all the nutrients they require. What actually constitutes a balanced diet? My Healthy Plate developed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) makes it easy to understand. A healthy meal comprises half plate of fruits and vegetables, quarter plate of whole-grains and quarter plate of meat and others (e.g. fish, tofu and dairy products). No single food can provide all the nutrients the body needs, so it is vital to consume a variety of foods from the different food groups. The visual guide also reminds us to use healthier oils (in moderation), choose water over sugar-sweetened drinks and be physically active.

Are you providing a variety of food for your child’s diet?

Having a varied diet means eating a wide variety of different foods from the different food groups, as well as within each food group. Each food group offers a wide range of choices and each one has a unique nutritional value.

Diet diversity is well recognised as a key element of high quality diets, as it helps to ensure nutritional adequacy. When your child eats a variety of foods, it increases the likelihood of him or her getting the many types of nutrients which are important for growth and development. On the other hand, when there’s a lack of variety in your child’s diet (e.g. due to picky eating), it may lead to nutritional gaps.

Wide variety of food consumption

Adequate intake of essential nutrients

Promotes optimal growth & development

Your child’s diet may not be as varied as you think if he consumes foods from the different food groups, but only goes for a particular food within each group; or if he eats seemingly many different foods, but they only come from one or two food groups.

Here are some tips for providing a balanced and varied diet:

1. Serve foods from the different food groups

According to the Health Promotion Board, there are 4 food groups:

  • Brown rice and wholemeal bread
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and others

2. Choose different foods within each food group

Each of the 4 main groups offers a wide range of food choices, and different foods within the same group can have different combinations of nutrients and other beneficial substances. Your child can achieve a healthful, nutritious eating pattern with by combining a variety of foods from within and across the food groups.

For example, some vegetables are good sources of vitamin C or vitamin A, while others may be high in folate. From the Meat & Others group, chicken provides vitamin B6 and iron, whereas milk supplies calcium and vitamin D. Choosing a variety of foods within each group also helps to make your meals more interesting from day to day.

Consider the use of a complete, balanced oral nutritional supplement.

Oral Nutrition Supplements (ONS) may help plug nutritional gaps in children with suboptimal growth or poor dietary habits like picky eating. An ideal oral nutrition supplement (ONS) should be high in energy and nutrient-dense to plug nutrition gaps and support catch-up growth*. ONS is a convenient nutrition solution to help deliver complete, balanced nutrition and a range of essential micronutrients to your child’s diet without compromising on taste. It is also a more advantageous option compared to conventional sweetened beverages which tend to be less nutrient dense.

This article Find out if your child is eating a balanced diet first appeared in
*High in energy

SG.2022.27905.PDS.1 (v1.1)

Discover our products 

Related Articles