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What is a Healthy Meal for Kids?

Friday, 11.03.2016

With all the food choices out there, it is important to give them a well-balanced meal to help them grow and stay healthy. The right nourishment is crucial in their growing years and they will need to take in a variety of food in moderation. But what is the right balance?

What’s wrong with children’s current eating habits?

With most families having two working adults, children are eating out of the home even more these days. Outside food is easily available, less time-consuming and there is “zero” cleaning up to do. 

Snacks and fast food can be found at every inch of this tiny island. The problem is, eating out means we chose from what is offered – and majority of the food out there are not healthy. They contain unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, high salt and sugar levels. 

Fruits and vegetables are given in small quantity or completely omitted. Let’s be honest – great tasting food aren’t always healthy! They are loaded with more preservatives, salt and sugar, than the nutrients that our kids really need. That’s probably why children are also facing added risks of obesity, diabetes and other illnesses that are linked with unhealthy eating.

How to create a balance and healthy meal daily?

The Health Promotion Board is encouraging Singaporeans to learn about “My Healthy Plate”, a guide to creating balanced and healthy meals for you and your family. It educates Singaporeans on what are the healthier food options and the right amounts we should consume. 

Creating a balanced and healthy meal takes some planning. With a visual guide as you can see in the diagram below, planning is made easy so parents can enjoy a better lifestyle without the hustle!

How to prepare a well-balanced and healthy meal at home?

Your food preparation begins from the grocery list. Look through your weekly list and remove processed food items such as canned or preserved food, frozen dinners and sugary or salted snacks. Stock up on whole grains and fresh produce, and don’t forget to include lots of colourful fruit and vegetables.

Whole grains  Vegetables

•    Wholemeal or multigrain bread
•    Brown rice
•    Wholegrain Spaghetti or brown rice bee hoon
•    Whole wheat crackers and biscuits

•    Eggplant
•    Leafy greens
•    Cucumber
•    Cauliflower
•    Tomatoes, carrots, capsicums
Fruits    Meat & others
•    Whole fruits (Apple, orange, pear, mango, banana)
•    Sliced fruits (Pineapple, watermelon, papaya)
•    Bunch fruits (Grapes, longans, rambutan)
•    Berries    
•    Skinless poultry
•    Lean meats
•    Fish rich in healthy fats (Salmon, cod, halibut, tuna in water) 
•    Beans and nuts
•    Low-fat dairy products
•    Healthy Oil & fats (Olive, sunflower, avocado, peanut)

You next step to prepare a healthier meal at home is choosing your cooking method:

Healthier cooking methods    Unhealthy cooking methods
•    Baking or Roasting
•    Steaming
•    Air frying
•    Sautéing or stir fry    
•    Deep frying
•    Charcoal Barbecue
•    Shallow frying 

Portion it Right!

The portions on your plate play a very important role in creating a healthy diet. For instance, you’ve already chosen brown rice over white rice, but IF the amount of rice exceeds what you need, you end up consuming excess calories which result in weight gain. 

In this regard, The Healthy Plate recommends that the portions of food types on your plate should consist a quarter of wholegrains, a quarter of meat and others. The other half of your plate should be loaded with fruit and vegetables.

Choose a well-balanced and healthy meal everywhere you go!

Eateries use fat, sugar and salt to make their food tasty but tasty food doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Here are some tips when eating out as a family:

1. Avoid fast food and deep fried food.

Choose steamed, braised, roasted or stir-fried dishes. Get fresh popiah or Vietnamese spring rolls instead of deep-fried spring rolls. Choose a braised soya sauce chicken instead of ayam goreng. The non-fried versions are still tasty and will be equally satisfying, especially for your waistline. 

2. Ask for less gravy or curry, and for sauces to be on the side

Generally sauces, gravies, and curries are high in calories, salt and sugar. Avoid adding gravy or curry to your rice, and leave the sauces on the side for dipping. If having salad, have the dressing on the side, adding only if needed. 

3. Be aware of where the fat is

Reduce the fat in your meal by asking for less oil, and avoid dishes with coconut milk and gravies (which are typically made from fat). Choose chicken breast instead of chicken thighs, and remove visible fat and skin from meat. Order noodle soup instead of dry noodles containing more oil and sauces.

4. Look out for the Healthier Choice logo

Look out for HCS at hawker centres, food courts, and restaurants. Stalls displaying the HCS offer healthier options, such as healthier oils, and you can ask for wholegrain options, less oil and/or more vegetables. 


This article is supported by the Health Promotion Board. Visit http://www.healthhub.sg/programmes/55/my-healthy-plate for more information.

Image credit: HealthHub.sg
 

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