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How to Choose Nutritious, Fresh or Convenience Foods

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Quick Overview

Fresh and convenience foods can contribute to a healthy balanced diet based on the five food groups. Some convenience foods are nutritious and suitable for toddlers. Others are low in key nutrients and may contain inappropriately high amounts of added salt / sodium, fat and sugar.

Mother and toddler out shopping looking for fresh, nutritious, convenient food

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  • Mother and toddler out shopping looking for fresh, nutritious, convenient food
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Guidance & Tips for Parents

1. Choosing nutritious, fresh foods.

Fruit, vegetables, meat and fish are usually cheaper when they are in season. You can find lists of fresh foods in season on www.eattheseasons.co.uk

Fruit and vegetables that have been picked locally and sold quickly will have more vitamin C and folic acid than those that are stored or transported for long periods of time. There is no real nutritional difference between organic and non-organic foods but organic foods are usually lower in pesticides as they have only been exposed to naturally occurring fertilizers and pesticides.

2. Choosing nutritious convenience foods for toddlers

Some convenience foods are nutritious and appropriate for toddlers. Others are less suitable because they do not contain enough of some key nutrients and contain too much salt, fat and sugar.

It is not necessary to cut out all the salt, fat and sugar in your toddler's diet. However, you should keep these ingredients to a minimum when you have a choice.

Unfortunately food labels do not always provide sufficient information to enable you to decide which convenience foods are the best for your toddler. Try to choose those that contain plenty of vegetables or fruits that are low in fat and are not too sweet.

Pre-prepared baby/toddler foods found in the baby aisles of supermarkets contain minimum levels of key nutrients and tend to have low levels of salt, fat, sugar and pesticides. Choose those that have higher amounts of meat, fish, eggs, lentils or other pulses for more iron.

Salt

Salt contains sodium, which is essential for your toddler to grow. However, too much salt in the diet can cause high blood pressure later in life.

Fat

Most food contains some fat. In moderation this is not a problem because fat enhances the flavour of the food and provides valuable energy and essential fatty acids. However, too much fat can cause your toddler to become overweight.

Sugar

Too much sugar can cause obesity and tooth decay. However there is no need to cut out sweet foods altogether. Ideally you should limit sweet food and drinks to just four times a day – that is as part of three meals and one snack.

Additives in food and E numbers

All additives with an E number have been tested for safety. However the Food Standards Agency now advises that toddlers should not be given foods that contain the following:

Colours:

 

Tartrazine E102
Ponceau 4 R E124
Sunset yellow E110
Carmosine E122
Quinoline yellow E104
Allura red AC E129

Preservatives:

Sodium benzoate E211

Sweetener:

Sorbitol

Some additives are quite nutritious. For instance ascorbic acid is vitamin C. Generally, however, it is best to choose foods for toddlers that contain few additives.

 

 

 

 

 

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