Two children baking together Two children baking together

What is a balanced diet?

A healthy, balanced diet is essential to ensure your child receives all the nutrients they need to grow and develop. Being active and eating well can help to improve your child’s health and their ability to learn.1

Sometimes it can seem difficult to get your child to eat a wide range of foods, but they provide different nutrients, so it is very important to try to offer them as much variety as possible.

PaediaSure Shake is here to give you peace of mind your little one is getting the essential nutrients they need throughout their journey to balanced nutrition. Try it alongside meals, at snack times or added to tasty recipes.

The Five Food Groups

A balanced diet for children is the presence of these nutrients in the right proportions.2

Food group Why it's important Good sources Recommended servings Top tips
1. Starchy foods Starchy foods contain carbohydrates and B vitamins, with wholegrain ones being a great source of fibre Pasta, potatoes, rice, oats, breads, cereals, sweet potato, noodles, couscous, green bananas, yam, millet, barley and rye 3 – 5 servings a day. Portions to be spread over the day and eaten with each meal (including snacks) Starchy food should make up just over a third of the food we eat. Choose higher fibre wholegrain varieties, such as wholewheat pasta and brown rice, or simply leave skins on potatoes.3
2. Protein Protein is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children Foods high in protein also contain vitamins and minerals such as iron that help the body grow and repair itself.  Meat, fish, eggs, vegetable protein, nuts, beans, peas, lentils, dahl, Quorn and soya 2 – 3 servings a day  Pulses, such as beans, peas and lentils, are good alternatives to meat because they're lower in fat and higher in fibre and protein, too. Choose lean cuts of meat and mince, and eat less red and processed meat like bacon, ham and sausages.3

Children should eat at least two portions of fish per week, one of which should be an oily fish such as mackerel, salmon or sardines.5

Oily fish provides omega-3 fatty acids needed to support children’s growth and development*
3. Milk and dairy products Milk and dairy products contain calcium, protein, vitamins including B12, A and D, and can help to keep bones and teeth healthy Milk, cheese, yoghurt, fromage frais, milkshakes 3 servings a day For children over 2 years who have steady growth, try to go for lower fat and lower sugar products where possible, like skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, reduced-fat cheese or plain low-fat yoghurt.3
4. Fruit and vegetables Fruit and vegetables provide vitamins, antioxidants, and fibre Fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed fresh, frozen, tinned, dried, or juiced At least 5 servings a day Try adding cherry tomatoes, or sticks of carrot, cucumber, celery and peppers to brighten up their lunchbox.6
5. Fats and sugars Foods high in fat and sugars are energy dense but can be lacking in other nutrients. A small amount of fat is an essential part of a balanced diet and helps the body to absorb vitamins A, D and E3 Butter, margarine, cooking oils, cream, salad dressings, chocolate, crisps, sugary soft drinks, sweets, jams, cakes, puddings, biscuits, pastries Do not have too many foods from this group - only in moderation as a treat For a healthier lunchbox, swap cakes, chocolate, cereal bars and biscuits for malt loaf, fruited teacakes, fruit breads or fruit.6

The Eatwell Guide

The Eatwell Guide shows how much of each food group we should eat overall in order to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. You don’t need to achieve this in every meal, but throughout the day or week in general3.

The Eatwell guide is appropriate for children over the age of two years old. 


  1. British Nutrition Foundation, 2004:  Accessed 28th September 2020.
  2. Great Ormond Street Hospital:  Accessed 28th September 2020.
  3. NHS:  Accessed 28th September 2020.
  4. Western Sussex Hospitals:  Accessed 28th September 2020.
  5. British Nutrition Foundation: Accessed 5th October 2020
  6. Accessed 5th October 2020

*Essential fatty acids are needed for normal growth and development of children. This beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 10g linoleic acid and 2g alpha-linolenic acid. 

Date of preparation September 2020. UK-PDSHK-2000095