Healthy Eating Guideline 4Make sure that food offered to children is appropriate to the child's age and development, and includes a wide variety of nutritious foods consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia.
Foods from the basic food groups provide the nutrients essential for life and growth. These foods may also be called ‘everyday foods’. Each group of these foods provides a variety of nutrients and plays various roles in helping the body function. In particular, vegetables, legumes and fruit protect against illness and are essential to a healthy diet.
Whether a setting provides meals and snacks or children bring food from home, ensure that all children eat a variety of foods from the basic food groups each day.
‘Sometimes foods’ (see page 30) on the other hand have little nutritional value and are not essential for good health. Eating a lot of sometimes foods is associated with ill health, being overweight and obesity. Research shows that overweight or obese children are likely to become overweight or obese adults, leading to increased risk of chronic illness. A healthy weight in childhood reduces these risks for later life.
Water is essential for life and should be the main drink each day. Young children in particular are at risk of thirst and dehydration, and should have access to drinking water at all times.