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The Australian Food Guidelines

What are the Australian Dietary Guidelines?

The Five Foods Groups in Australia

The 5 Principles of Australian Dietary Guidelines

Foods to Avoid for Toddlers

Serving Sizes

Building Healthy Habits for Life

What are the Australian Dietary Guidelines?

‘Eat for Health’ – the Australian Dietary Guidelines were reviewed and released in February 2013. The guidelines provide up-to-date information on the foods your toddler should be eating, so that they get enough of the nutrients that are essential for their healthy growth, wellbeing and development. It includes serving sizes based on your child’s age and gender, with the recommended portions offering a sufficient variety of nutritious foods to meet their dietary needs. They are based on scientific evidence and research.

There are 5 Food Groups in Australia

By providing your toddler with the recommended amounts from the Five Food Groups, they may have a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers. Your child may look and feel better, enjoy life more and live longer!

  • Vegetables, beans and legumes of different types and colours
  • Fruits
  • Wholegrain cereal foods including breads, rice, pasta and noodles
  • Lean meats, fish, poultry, and/or alternatives such as eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
  • Milks, yoghurts, cheeses and/or alternatives

Follow the 5 Australian Dietary Guidelines for Children::

The Australian Dietary Guidelines of most relevance to toddlers are included below:

Guideline One

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight and be physically active every day. Children’s growth should be checked regularly.

Guideline Two

Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the Five Food groups every day to provide your little one with a greater range of vitamins, minerals and many other nutrients.

Guideline Three

Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.

Guideline Four

Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.

Guideline Five

Care for your food – prepare and store it safely – as little bodies can be more susceptible to food poisoning.

Foods to Avoid for Toddlers

  • Reduced-fat milks (and low fat diets in general are not suitable for children under two years, because of their high energy needs.
  • Children below 3 years of age can choke on hard foods. To prevent this, sit with them when they eat and don’t give them hard foods such as popcorn, nuts, hard confectionery or crisps. Cook or grate hard fruit and vegetables to soften them, and remove all bones from fish or meat.

The foods below are not essential to a child’s diet, and should be avoided by parents with toddlers. They are high in kilojoules, saturated fat, added sugars, added salt, and alcohol.

  • Sweet biscuits, cakes and desserts
  • Processed meats and sausages
  • Ice cream and chocolate
  • Meat pies and other pastries
  • Commercial burgers, hot chips, pizza and fried foods
  • Cream, butter, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil
  • Sugar-sweetened cordials, soft drinks, fruit drinks, vitamin waters and sports drinks

Serving Sizes

Your toddler’s portion size should meet their energy needs, to help them grow and develop. Some children’s portion sizes are smaller than the serve size; they will need to eat smaller amounts from the Food Groups more often. Children rarely eat exactly the same way each day, and it is common for the amount that they eat to fluctuate. However, on average, the total of their portion sizes should end up being similar to the number of serves they need each day. These are the serving sizes for children of 2-3 years of age.

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Building Healthy Habits for Life

Childhood is a time of learning. Children raised in families who enjoy a range of foods from the Five Food Groups are more likely to make their own healthy choices when they get older. You can encourage this by teaching your children to:

  • Wash hands before eating or cooking
  • Eat a healthy breakfast every day
  • Learn where foods are grown and where they come from
  • Try new foods and recipes, involving the whole family with cooking and preparation
  • Choose ‘everyday foods’ from the Five Food Groups
  • Turn off the TV at meal time – this is family time
  • Provide a wide variety of types and colours of fresh fruit and vegetables when in season
  • Choose water as a drink
  • Replace saturated fats (butter etc) with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado
  • Read labels to choose lower sodium options among similar foods. Do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the table.