Healthy eating plan for kids

By Drum Digital
21 March 2014

Is your child overweight? You may be at a loss as to how to help because talking to kids about their weight can be a sensitive topic, no matter their age. Dieticians Ecila du Bruyn and Ilsabé Spoelstra give advice on how to help your overweight child slim down.

Is your child overweight? You may be at a loss as to how to help because talking to kids about their weight can be a sensitive topic, no matter their age. Dieticians Ecila du Bruyn and Ilsabé Spoelstra give you a healthy eating plan for kids.


Choose one

  • 1 c fibre-rich porridge or cereal such as oats or All-Bran OR ½ c wholegrain ProNutro or low-GI muesli. Add enough low-fat milk OR yoghurt so it tastes good – don’t measure. Any fruit can be eaten with this.


  • if your child doesn’t like cereal, replace this with 1 or 2 slices of coarse low-GI bread. Instead of butter or margarine use a light spread such as Miracle Whip OR low-fat cottage cheese OR cream cheese. Along with this you can serve an egg OR grated cheese with something fresh such as a fruit or tomato.



Certain foods will be more convenient for weekends at home and others for the lunchbox.

  • 1-2 slices low-GI brown/wholegrain/seed bread
  • OR 4-8 Pro-Vitas/Ryvitas
  • OR a large mealie

  • 2 T low-fat cheese or lean biltong
  • OR 1 boiled or scrambled egg
  • OR 1 slice pure cold meat, such as leftovers from the day before, not commercial, processed meat
  • OR 2 T fish such as tuna, pilchards, mackerel or salmon
  • OR 2 T chicken

  • ½-1 c salad or any raw vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, cucumber
  • OR vegetable soup. (When more than one salad is served, a mixed salad and beetroot for example, children are inclined to eat more vegetables. That’s the aim because the more veggies they eat the fewer kilojoules they tend to consume overall.)


  • 1 portion – the size of a child’s open hand – of lean meat OR skinless chicken
  • 1 potato OR 1 portion of wholegrain pasta, brown rice, sweet potato, mealies, wheat or any other healthy, fibre-rich starch
  • 1 c or more vegetables – as wide a variety as possible. Unlimited vegetables are allowed


Allow one of the following in the morning and another in the afternoon. Active children and those with a fast metabolism need to eat more so they can enjoy up to three options.

  • 1 fresh fruit OR 3-4 pieces of dried fruit
  • ½ c flavoured low-fat yoghurt
  • 1 starch, for example 1 slice low-GI wholegrain bread OR a bran muffin OR 4 Pro-Vitas
  • 2 T cheese (low-fat if available) OR 2 T lean biltong OR 1 slice pure cold meat

Weekend treats

  • Fresh fruit (Remember, dried and canned fruit are always better than no fruit at all.)
  • ½ c yoghurt can be replaced with low-fat custard
  • A bite-size treat such as chocolate OR 1 scoop of ice cream


  • Juice should be an exception, not the rule, because on average a glass of juice is equivalent to three fruits.
  • Avoid flavoured water. Teach children to drink plain water or mix fruit juice and water half-and-half. Make cooldrink and juice weekend treats only.


  • Thinly spread bread with light spreads such as canola light margarine or Miracle Whip Light.

  • Focus on healthy fats which have more volume than a lick of butter or margarine, such as avocado, nuts and peanut butter.

  • Use moderate amounts of good oils such as Vergezocht High Oleic (HO) Sunflower Oil. It’s a relatively new South African product that has a lot of omega-9 fatty acids.  It can be cooked for 35 hours before it breaks down and becomes unhealthy to ingest. It’s not yet generally available but big supermarkets are starting to stock it. Use it moderately for stir-fries, homemade oven-baked chips and frying eggs. Small amounts of olive oil can be used for salad dressings.

  • Don’t make an overweight child stick to an eating plan while other kids in the family may eat as they please, especially when it comes to treats. Everyone should eat healthily and learn good habits.

  • When serving flavoured cereals, mix them with healthier alternatives. Each time increase the proportion of the healthier cereal so kids’ eyes and palates become used to healthy food.

  • Meat should be grilled or lightly stir-fried in a few drops of HO oil or cooked in liquid in a casserole dish such as a stew for example. Use tomato sauce, light mayonnaise or chutney, fresh herbs, spices, Ina Paarman sauces or soup powders. These don’t contain unwanted preservatives.

-Ecila du Bruyn and Ilsabé Spoelstra

T=tablespoon, t=teaspoon, c=cup

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