What Are Ideal Food Portions For Kids December 20 2012

By Dietician Caryn Kave

How much is too much or not enough? This can be complex question for parents to answer as there is no clear cut answer. The amount your child eats will depend on their age, gender, height, weight and physical activity levels. It is important to keep this in mind whilst thinking about serving sizes for your child. For example, children who are taller or more physically active might require more food than their shorter or less physically active counterparts.

The NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council), in their Australian guide to healthy eating provide guidance as to how many serves per day should be provided for each food group for children of different ages but also what constitutes a serve. It is ok to distribute serves according to your childs hunger / needs. As long as the overall picture at the end of the day resembles what is being advised.

 

To help work out how much is enough, below are some suggestions for suitable serving sizes for different food groups for children:

A stand serve of Vegetable, legumes or beans

  • ½ cup cooked green or orange vegetables (eg broccoli, spinach, carrots or pumpkin)
  • ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, peas or lentils
  • 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
  • ½ cup sweet corn
  • ½ medium potato or other starchy vegetables (sweet potato, taro or cassava)
  • 1 medium tomato

 

A standard serve of Fruit

  • 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear
  • 2 small apricots, kiwi fruits or plums
  • 1 cup diced or canned fruit (with no added sugar)

     Or only occasionally:

  • 125ml (½ cup) fruit juice (with no added sugar)
  • 30g dried fruit (for example, 4 dried apricot halves, 1½ tablespoons of sultanas)

 

A standard serve of Grains

  • 1 slice (40g) bread
  • ½ medium (40g) roll or flat bread
  • ½ cup (75–120g) cooked rice, pasta, noodles, barley, buckwheat, semolina, polenta, bulgur or quinoa
  • ½ cup (120g) cooked porridge
  • ²/³ cup (30g) wheat cereal flakes
  • ¼ cup (30g) muesli
  • 3 (35g) crispbreads
  • 1 (60g) crumpet
  • 1 small (35g) English muffin or scone

 

A standard serve of Protein

  • 65g cooked lean meats such as beef, lamb, veal, pork, goat or kangaroo (about 90–100g raw) 
  • 80g cooked lean poultry such as chicken or turkey (100g raw)
  • 100g cooked fish fillet (about 115g raw weight) or one small can of fish 
  • 2 large (120g) eggs
  • 1 cup (150g) cooked or canned legumes/beans such as lentils, chick peas or split peas (no added salt) 
  • 170g tofu 
  • 30g nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter or tahini or other nut or seed paste

 

A standard serve of Dairy

  • 1 cup (250ml) fresh, UHT long life, reconstituted powdered milk or buttermilk 
  • ½ cup (120ml) evaporated milk 
  •  2 slices (40g) or 4 x 3 x 2cm cube (40g) of hard cheese, such as cheddar 
  • ½ cup (120g) ricotta cheese 
  • ¾ cup (200g) yoghurt 
  • 1 cup (250ml) soy, rice or other cereal drink with at least 100mg of added calcium per 100ml