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The 5 Food Groups

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The 5 Food Groups

For your toddler’s growth and development it is important that they eat a balanced diet. All foods can be put into one of five food groups and the key is to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods from each of these five groups.

Vegetables

Vegetables make up one of the largest food groups, providing your little one with a range of vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fibre for a healthy digestive system.
One serving of vegetables is equal to ½ cup of cooked vegetables, 1 cup of salad vegetables or about the size of 1 medium tomato.
It is recommended that children between 2-3 years of age have 2 ½ serves per day.

Fruit

Fruit is another great source of vitamins, as well as carbohydrates for energy. Whole fruits with the skin on will provide extra dietary fibre while dried fruits can be enjoyed in moderation. Fresh fruit is preferred over juice, as excess consumption is not healthy for little teeth and may upset sensitive tummies.
A serve of fruit is one medium apple, an orange or small banana, two apricots or kiwi fruit or one cup of fruit salad.
It is recommended that children between 2-3 years of age have 1 serve per day.

Grains and Cereals

This group includes foods such as wheat, oats, rice, rye, barley, millet, quinoa and corn, which are often made into breads, cereals, pasta and noodles. Including these foods in your little one’s diet will provide carbohydrates for energy and often contain essential nutrients such as B vitamins and iron. Choosing minimally-processed whole grains or high-fibre varieties will provide extra dietary fibre for healthy digestion. One serving of this food group is equal to 1 slice of bread, ½ medium roll, ½ cup of cooked pasta, rice, noodles, quinoa or porridge, 2/3 cup cereal flakes or about 3 crisp breads.
It is recommended that children between 2-3 years of age have 4 serves per day.

Meat and Alternatives

This group includes meat, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, tofu and legumes. These foods provide protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12, vital for healthy growth and a strong immune system.
Serving sizes of this group are less than most parents expect, with one serve equal to 65g of cooked red meat, 80g of cooked poultry, 100g cooked fish, 2 eggs, 1 cup of legumes, 170g tofu or 30g of nuts and seeds.
Remember a serve can be split into a few child-friendly portions over the day.
It is recommended that children between 2-3 years of age have 1 serve per day.

Dairy and Alternatives

Dairy is included as a food group as it provides an excellent source of calcium for strong bones and teeth, protein for growth as well as a range of other vitamins and minerals. Toddlers under 2 years of age should be given full cream dairy products, as their energy levels are high; switch to reduced fat dairy after their second birthday to decrease the saturated fat content.
One serving of this food group is equal to 1 cup of milk or, 2 slices of cheese (40g), ½ cup of ricotta cheese or 200g of yoghurt.
It is recommended that children between 2-3 years of age have 1 ½ serves per day.

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