Young children benefit from being exposed to a variety of food groups to ensure they’re consuming all the necessary nutrients for cell and nerve development and function.
And, every food group plays an important part. Grains are exceptional for fuelling your little ones, dairy provides calcium to build strong teeth and bones, protein are the building blocks of life and help the body’s cell repair function, and last but not least, healthy fats help the body absorb vitamins, boost energy and regulate body temperature.
However, the issue of removing food groups for kids often comes up at my workshops around the idea of how to manage food intolerances and allergies – most commonly gluten and dairy.
Did you know, that around one in 20 children have some form of food allergy or sensitivity? This number has doubled in the last decade and the most common ones are wheat, dairy, nuts and eggs, which can often be concerning for parents as many foods contain some or all of these.
I often see families who have at least one child with an allergy, and feel the need to cook separate meals to cater for them (hello, stressful mealtimes) or fall into the trap of providing processed and convenient ‘allergy-friendly’ options that aren’t as nutritious as they could be.
But, never fear. Allergy-friendly swaps don’t have to be scary. There are definitely nutrient-dense gluten and dairy-free options out there and when you know what to look for, they can be simple and delicious. Some of my favourite swaps are also a great way to include a range of other food groups and boost veggie intake.