Meal Plan for Children

Following on from a toddler's diet, children from around age three or four through until adolescence are still developing both physically and mentally and the need for good nutrition continues. However this age is notorious for finicky diet habits, irregular eating and grazing; all behaviours which parents need to try to tempt their children out of. Kids are very active during these years and as they grow, nutritional requirements will increase and optimum nutrition is vital, not only for the child's health, but also for reduction in risk of disease later in life. During these years eating habits for life are still being shaped. Try to steer your child away from processed foods and confectionary, and choose more traditional 'healthy' alternatives, though don't let them feel too left out from the other kids at school, and occasional treats are fine.

The following example meal plan has been designed for 'typical' children from the age of around five years old to around eleven or twelve, though obviously nutritional requirements and portion sizes of meals will vary considerably between younger and older children in this age bracket. The plan below has been compiled to be nutritionally balanced to suit children who are active and accounts for different likes and dislikes. Preparing different foods for your child is very important, but remember if they really do not like a particular food, they need not have it. Obviously all kids are different, so like all the plans here, it is merely an example and needs to be adapted to suit different ages, sexes, activities and general circumstances. If your child is really into sports or other physical activities then they will needs lots of energy-packed foods throughout the day.

Use this plan to give you an idea of which healthy nutritious foods are good to include in your kid's diet, but don't forget to encourage him / her to drink plenty of fluids through the day. Remember that calcium foods, sources of essential fats; high protein foods and slow released carb sources need particular attention.

High fibre cereal (like Weetabix, Shreddies or porridge – avoid sugar coated cereal) + skimmed milk (preferably no additional sugar although a very light sprinkling would be acceptable)
1-2 slices granary bread (toasted) + olive oil based spread + jam / peanut butter
200ml fresh fruit juice
1-2 wholewheat biscuits (e.g. oatcakes, digestive)
Item fruit
Sandwich: 2 slices wholemeal + butter + chicken/ham or tuna in low fat natural yoghurt or cheese
Chopped carrot / cucumber / celery in a bowl
1 square home-made easy flapjack
Drink water or diluted high-juice cordial
Item fruit
Home from school
High fibre cereal (like Weetabix, Shreddies or porridge – avoid sugar coated cereal) + skimmed milk
or 2 slices granary bread (toasted) + olive oil based spread + jam / peanut butter
Evening Meal
Typical family meal e.g.: 100-120g chicken breast / lean meat / white fish
3-4 tbsp cooked basmati rice or 60g cooked pasta or small potato mashed/boiled/jacket
Cooked veg
1 square home-made easy flapjack
Item fruit

The 'Home from school' snack will depend on what time your child finishes school and whether or not he / she partakes in any after-school activities. Children should be encouraged to eat the same evening meal as the whole family, and sitting down together is also important to help behavioural development and for the re-enforcement of family values. Encourage your child to eat at similar times of the day, to steer them away from snacking and binging, however encourage them to drink whenever they're thirsty.

Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.