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Portion guide updated for pre-school children

By Rachel Lawler
 
toddler nutrition guidelines
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) has issued new portion guidelines for one-, two-, three- and four-year-old children.
 
Called 5532, the new guide offers updated advice about sugars, guidelines for vegetarian and vegan children and includes an extended range of examples.
 
New portion guidelines
The guidelines suggest that children should be given the following each day:
  • five portions of starchy foods
  • five (or more) portions of fruit and vegetables
  • three portions of dairy foods
  • two portions of protein foods – or three if the child is vegetarian or vegan
The recommended size of these portions varies depending on the age of each child, with a range given for each food type. For example, portions include between three and six tablespoons of breakfast cereal, between two and six carrot sticks and between two and four spoons of beans or lentils.
 
Vegetarian and vegan children
Separate recommendations for vegetarians and vegans have been issued as these diets are becoming increasingly popular with families. The BNF suggests that these children should be given an additional portion of protein foods each day to ensure that they get enough nutrients.
 
Parents have also been given advice for establishing healthy habits, including recommending regular meal and snack times, encouraging but not forcing children to eat and limiting the amount of salt in children’s diets.
 
The guide also notes that sugary drinks and treats including biscuits, chocolate and sweets should not be included in a child’s regular diet.
 
Healthy habits
Sara Stanner, science director at the BNF, explained: “Establishing healthy eating habits from a young age helps to set a child up for good health later in life. Even when parents know which foods are part of a healthy diet, it can sometimes be difficult to know what sized portion is suitable for a young child and how often they should be eating from the different food groups each day.”
 
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