A healthy balanced diet should be modelled on the Eatwell Guide and provide the right amount of energy that the child needs, depending upon age and activity level. It should include lots of fruit and vegetables and plenty of fluid. Children need to be particularly careful of the amount of sugar and salt in their diet.
The “eatwell guide” below is an easy to understand picture of what a balanced diet looks like.
Encouraging the use of a smaller plate makes it easier to give a child a child size portion, getting the kids involved in cooking and serving will help them understand food better and give them useful skills. Suggest healthy snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon as a regular thing to avoid over eating at meals. Point out carers need to keep an eye on portion sizes like sharing bags of crisps. Engage with children and young people and parents / carers to use the eat well guide when planning meals and out shopping. Show them what food labels mean and how it relates to healthy eating. Suggest the sugar swap tool on change 4 life to find healthier alternatives for sugary snacks.
Indicators a child or young person has an issue with food may include their weight; remember it is hard to judge whether a child is a healthy weight so use the NHS BMI calculator to check. A child who is failing to thrive, seems anxious or sluggish may be malnourished. A child does not have to be thin to be malnourished, and being overweight is also a concern.
There is much information about eating disorders available on NHS choices and links to charity websites such as Anorexia and Bulimia Care.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists have produced a leaflet ‘Eating disorders in young people – what parents need to know: information for parents, carers and anyone who works with young people‘ it discusses the causes of eating disorders and how to recognise them, as well as giving advice on how to cope with a child who has an eating disorder.
If you have concerns that a child has an eating disorder speak to the child’s parents or carer and suggest they speak to the child. They may find it helpful to speak to the child’s school nurse or GP who will be able to refer the child to an appropriate service. It might be possible to speak to the child themselves, in a non-judgmental way and explore how they are feeling. Even if they push you away the most important thing is being there for them.
Most NHS services for eating disorders will require referral from a health professional, talk about your concerns with the child’s school nurse or GP.
If you are concerned that a child is overweight, use the NHS BMI calculator to work out their body mass index. If it is over the 91st centile they can be seen by GetGoing, a specific children’s weight service in the area, alternatively speak to the school nurse or GP about referral. Please look at the physical activity pages of this website for opportunities to get more active.
Click here for the obesity referral pathway.
For children and young people aged four to 16 years who are above a healthy weight and live in North Lincolnshire, the GetGoing team provides a free personalised and supportive approach to childhood weight management.
This successful programme enables children and their families to access FREE one-to-one sessions in their home or community setting. Each session aims to empower and motivate children to make healthier lifestyle choices.
Please contact Alex Piercy for more information or to make a referral to the GetGoing team – tel 07702 275246 or email Nlccg.firstname.lastname@example.org
For children 16 and over or if as an adult you would like to learn more about healthy eating or learn some cooking skills yourself or for parents / carers you can self-refer to the health trainer service.
To get more information or to register with a Health Trainer, there are three ways to get in touch with the Health Trainer service:
Telephone: 01724 292170
Website: North Lincs – Health trainers
or visit us at the Ironstone Centre, West Street, Scunthorpe, DN15 6HX
The Shelf Titles are part of a national scheme aimed at improving emotional health and well-being.
The Shelf Help booklist is aimed at young people, and offers advice about issues such as bullying and exams, as well as mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and OCD. The titles have been chosen and endorsed by professionals. Copies of the titles are available for loan from the Central Library. More details can be found on the library web pages.