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Food for Active Families

Published: 24.01.2020

I love the fact my kids are busy and interested in a range of activities. It does mean a very hectic week though and if I am not prepared food-wise it can make or break my week. I also like to run and have to factor that into my schedule.

A balanced diet is key to ensure everyone gets the necessary fuel to keep active, as well as vital nutrients for growth. A healthy balanced diet including all the main food groups will ensure growth potential is reached and your kids stay healthy.

When planning meals, think about the starchy component of the meal, for example will you have rice, pasta, couscous, polenta, potatoes, noodles, cereals or bread? Then what protein will you add? There are lots to choose from including meat, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts or legumes and not forgetting cheese as a great source of protein and calcium. Then there are the fruit and veggies. Lastly do think of including calcium-rich foods. I hear you, it’s a lot to remember!

Calcium intakes are really important for kids to ensure bones reach optimal strength and for the whole family to prevent bone density loss. This can happen if you do not maintain an adequate calcium intake. Scary stuff! Calcium is primarily found in milk, yoghurt and cheese. Aim for three servings a day (two if under 8 years old) in meals or snacks. For example, a glass of milk is 250ml, 40g cheese (2 slices) and a pot of yoghurt (200g).

I keep a list of meals that I prepare in minutes and others that I have pre-prepared. I usually do a mix of these over the course of the week. Keeping a note of what meals I have in the freezer really helps.

Quick meals I make in minutes include:

  • Pasta with smoked salmon, cream cheese and frozen peas
  • Jacket potato with a variety of fillings
  • Egg noodles, sliced spring onions, frozen pepper, cooked chicken/beef/tofu and soy sauce
  • Couscous cooked in veggy stock with smoked mackerel, fried onion and broccoli
  • Veggie rice with chilli sauce and cashew nuts (this one's included in the Move, Laugh & Learn program)

Meals I prepare in advance and freeze include:

  • Fish pie with a potato topping
  • Bolognaise (meat or vegetarian - red lentils instead of mince)
  • Chilli using some of the batch of bolognaise
  • Chicken and potato hot-pot
  • Pasta parcels

There's more ideas for Fussy Eaters from Pam in this article.

Drinking plenty of water is also really important when you are active. A rough guide is 4 – 6 glasses under 8 years of age and 6 – 8 glasses over 8 years but they may need more depending on the activity. The real indicator is the colour of the urine. Keep to straw colour and you know you’re drinking well!

Angharad Banner, RD

Move, Laugh & Learn Dietician