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Eating from all of the 4 food groups: Dietary Guidelines for children and adolescents

The Dietary Guidelines for children and adolescents from the New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends the following daily intakes.  Remember, that these are guidelines only and that there will be some individual/cultural variation (as per anything) that is why the guidelines are a range.  Really active kids may need a higher number of serves whereas a less active child a lower number of serves. 

Unlike us kids are really good and controlling their intake and will generally only eat until they are full (unless it is something incredibly yummy like chocolate that is)!

Some of the servings sizes can seem quite large.  Remember that these can be broken up into smaller servings and spread throughout the day i.e. instead of 1 cup of pasta at dinner have 1/2 cup with lunch and another 1/2 cup with dinner. Your child will help guide you with regards to how much they can eat.  The important thing to note is the mix between the different food groups eg: if you find that you are serving your kids more foods from the meat group than the breads and cereals you will probably want to alter the balance slightly to offer a more nutritionally balanced meal.

Yum Yum Kids Tip: It may be useful to keep a note of what your child eats for a day and compare it with the guidelines below. 

These are the guidelines from the Ministry of Health - guidelines that cover the amount of food to eat from each food group to meet energy and nutrient requirements for children aged 2 - 18 years. 

These guidelines apply to healthy children and young people who have no special dietary requirements.  For children and young people with special dietary requirements, these guidelines should be adapted by a dietician or appropriate health practitioner.

A preschool child is classified as a child between 2 and 5.  'Children' are those 5 - 12 years and young people 13 - 18 years.

Food Group Specific foods included Recommendation (per day) Serving Size examples
Vegetables & fruits All vegetables and fruit, including potatoes, kumara and taro
Vegetables and fruit – fresh, frozen or canned
Fruit juice or dried fruit can count as contributing only serving to the recommended dietary intake.
Preschoolers: at least 2 servings of vegetables and at least 2 servings of fruit
Children: at least 3 servings of vegetables and at least 2 servings of fruit
Young people: at least 3 servings of vegetables and at least 2 servings of fruit
1 medium potato or kumara (135 g)
1⁄2 cup cooked vegetables (eg, broccoli, peas,
corn, spinach(50–80 g)
1 carrot (75 g)
1⁄2 cup salad (60 g)
1 tomato (80 g)
1⁄2 avocado (80 g)
1 apple, pear, banana or orange (130 g)
2 small apricots or plums (100 g)
1⁄2 cup fresh fruit salad (120 g)
1⁄2 cup stewed or tinned fruit (135 g)
1 cup fruit juice (250 ml)
Breads & cereals All breads, cereals, rice and pasta (increasing wholegrain options as children age) Preschoolers: at least 4 servings
Children: at least 5 servings
Young people: at least 6 servings
1 medium slice of bread (26 g)
1 roll (50 g)
1 pita pocket or tortilla (50–80 g)
2 breakfast wheat biscuits (34 g)
1⁄2 cup muesli (55 g)
1⁄2 - 1 cup porridge (130 g)
1 cup cornflakes (30 g)
1 cup cooked pasta or rice (150 g)
4 grainy crackers (40 g)
2 plain sweet biscuits (14 g)
1 cup plain popcorn
Milk & milk products Milk (includes calcium- fortified milk alternatives), cheese and yoghurt (choose low-fat options) Preschoolers and children: at least 2–3 servings
Young people: at least 3 servings
Glass of milk or calcium-fortified milk alternative (250 ml)
Pottle of yoghurt (150 g)
2 slices of cheese (40 g)
Lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts & seeds Lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, legumes (eg, peas, beans, lentils), nuts and seeds (choose unprocessed meats as much as possible) Preschoolers and children: at least 1–2 servings
Young people: at least 2 servings
Vegetarians: at least 2 servings
2 slices of cooked meat (100 g)
3⁄4 cup of mince or casserole (195 g)
1 medium fish fillet (100 g)
1 chicken leg or 2 drumsticks (110 g)
1 egg (50 g)
1⁄2 can tuna or salmon (90 g)
3⁄4 cup dried cooked beans, peas or lentils (135 g)
1⁄2 cup nuts or seeds (75 g)

The Ministry of Health recommends choosing vegetables and fruit that are fresh, frozen or canned. If vegetable/fruit juice or dried fruit is consumed, it contributes a maximum of only one serving of the total recommended number of servings for this food group. Servings of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruit are still required to meet the recommendations.