Child nutrition is a subject really close to Jamie’s heart, partly because he’s so worried about what kids are being fed at schools all over the UK. That’s part of the reason why he founded the Kitchen Garden Project, which helps to fund and found veg patches and cooking lessons in schools. We work really hard to make sure the recipes we provide meet the needs of growing children.
But what they eat at home is really important too. It’s where they will learn to love food, and pick up most of their eating habits. Now the kids are back at school, it’s a good time of year to be thinking about what you’re feeding them. Children have huge nutritional requirements because they are growing fast. What they eat can have an impact on their concentration levels, and being fuelled with the right foods can improve their performance at school and help them get the most out of their day.
Whatever age you are, it’s really important to have a healthy, balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread and wholegrain cereals, lean protein (meat, fish and eggs) and dairy foods. But children – teenagers especially – should make sure they also have three servings of dairy foods in their diet each day. This is because calcium continues to strengthen your bones until you reach mid-twenties, at which point your bones only maintain or lose density. So keep kids topped up with foods rich in calcium while they’re still young – yoghurt, milk-based fruit smoothies and a portion (30g) of hard cheese are all good choices.
Feeding children the right foods when they are young helps in two ways. Not only does it set them up for life with a better chance of doing well at school and giving them energy and strong bones, but it also instils good eating habits that will hopefully last a lifetime.