Eatwell guide why it's important

Eatwell guide why it's important

Fruit and vegetables

  • Children under 5 to be encouraged to taste 5 different fruit/vegetables each day
  • Nursery children over 2 should be offered fruit/ vegetables with each meal and at some snack times
  • Care with dried fruit as a snack to promote good dental health.

Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins.

  • Aim for 2-3 toddler portions per day
  • Across the week offer a range
  • Minimum of 2 red meat dishes or bean/pulse vegetable dishes each week
  • Include oily fish regularly
  • Look for lower salt alternatives

To work towards a healthier diet

  • Oils and spreads - eat less often and in small amounts
  • Food and drinks high in fat and/or sugar
  • Keep biscuits/cakes to meal times only
  • Choose unsaturated oils
  • Be aware of foods high in salt


  • The preferred drinks are water and milk Aim for 100-150ml as a drink
  • Fresh drinking water should be available at all times
  • Diluted fruit juice can be served with a meal (Dilution 1:10)
  • Squash/Fizzy drinks should not be served.

Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates

  • A variety of foods from this group should be provided and made available at each meal time and at least one snack time
  • Bread based choices e.g. bread, crackers, crumpets, bread sticks – maximum twice a day
  • Look for lower salt alternatives

Dairy and alternatives

  • 2-3 toddler portions each day
  • Include a milk based dessert each day
  • Take care with too much cheese due to high salt content
  • Whole milk as a drink for 1-2 yr olds
  • Semi-skimmed milk can be introduced from 2 yrs

Good Habits

When toddlers reach their first birthday, all the good habits you have tried to put in place may be challenged. It may be reassuring to know that:

Food preferences may start to show – maybe previously enjoyed colours, tastes, textures are now refused.

  • Independence around feeding is noticed – it is good to allow toddlers time to feed themselves as you pop a spoonful into their mouth too!
  • Sudden changes in food likes and dislikes appear.
  • New foods are refused – this usually decreases by the time school age approaches.

If any of the above is a concern, try the following steps each day for a healthy balance:

  1. Make meal time a family time - Ensure staff and children eat meals together. Praise the child who is eating well and when new foods are tried.
  2. Ensure menus are nutritious - Never insist children eat everything on their plate.
  3. Offer food from all 4 food groups in the Eatwell Guide- This will ensure a good mix of nutrients.
  4. Aim for 3 meals and 2-3 snacks - Offer 2 courses at each meal. Offer only nutritious snacks and discourage grazing on food.
  5. Aim for 6-8 drinks a day - Give all drinks in a cup/beaker. Aim for around 100-120ml per drink.
  6. Respect tastes & preferences - Never force feed a child. Some children eat everything, others are more picky. Some may like each item separate on their plate.
  7. Limit/avoid the following on your menu/snack list - Fried foods, crisps, sweet biscuits, squash. Ensure fruit juice is diluted 1:10 and only given with a meal.
  8. Encourage active play and sleep if needed - Active play is good in short bursts or can be an organised activity.
  9. Above all, eating