Developing healthy eating habits as a family will prepare your kids for the rest of their lives and have a big impact on their health in the long term.
With a lot of information out there about what to feed your family, it can be difficult to figure out the basics. Here is what you need to know.
What kind of food should my family be eating and how much?
There are five food groups we need to eat for a healthy diet:
Vegetables and legumes/beans
Enjoy a variety of colours and types (eat the rainbow).
Eat mostly fresh fruit and enjoy a variety of colours and types. Frozen and canned fruit in juice (with no added sugar) are also great options. But limit fruit juice (no added sugar) to small amounts or only occasionally.
Grain (cereal) foods
Mostly wholegrain and high-fibre, such as wholegrain bread, wholemeal pasta and brown rice.
Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, legumes/beans, nuts and seeds
Dairy alternatives include calcium fortified plant milks, such as almond, rice and soy.
Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or dairy alternatives
Mostly reduced fat. Dairy alternatives include calcium fortified plant milks, such as almond, rice and soy.
How much you need of each of these foods in a day depends on your age and gender. You can use our food calculator to find out what is best for you.
Other types of food – like take-away meals, sweet biscuits, chips and soft drinks – can be high in salt, saturated fat and sugar. These foods should be eaten only sometimes (not every day) and in small portions. An example of a small portion would be one or two sweet biscuits, not a packet, or a can of soft drink, not a large bottle.
Use our food calculator to find out how much of what you and your family members should be eating every day, based on gender and age.
What should my family be drinking?
Water is free from the tap, it won’t damage your children’s teeth, and it doesn’t contain any sugars like fruit juices, energy drinks and soft drinks. Check out some tips in this video for drinking more water.
3 key habits that will help
It is important for kids to understand the right balance between healthy food and other types of food. Your children may ask for take-away meals, lollies, sweet drinks and other foods high in salt, sugar and fat. It is important that the family treats these as ‘sometimes’ foods, eaten occasionally, not every day. Balancing our food with activity
is also important. Read about things you can do today to
get active as a family or find out about
fun programs for kids and families.
Trying new and varied flavours is part of the joy of food. Luckily, adding colour and variety to your plate is also a key part of healthy eating. It helps us to eat all the food groups and nutrients we need each day. Take a look at our healthy recipes to get some ideas for filling your plate with different food groups.
Foods like take-away meals, lollies and hot chips are high in salt, sugar and/or saturated fat. Eating too much of them can increase the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.
Here are some tips to help you moderate how much of these foods you eat, without completely changing your life:
- Swap for a healthier option. Like switching out desserts or lollies with some
plain popcorn or your child’s favourite fruit.
- Do a weekly shop and fill the pantry with healthy options. Put fruit and vegetable within reach of kids, so they can make the right choice when they’re hungry. Read our tips for how to
shop smart, shop healthy.
- Choose your child’s portion size when they want a snack, rather than letting them eat straight from the packet.
Helping my family to get healthy
If you would like help supporting your family to live a healthier lifestyle, check out
Go4Fun. It’s a free program for families of children aged 7 to 13 who are above a healthy weight. Run by trained health and community professionals, it’s a fun way to build self-esteem and learn about eating well, staying active and living a healthy life.