Blogs, news and press releases relating to kids nutrition


Get kids moving – 5 tips to best fuel kids’ exercise

Let’s take inspiration from this year’s Tour de France and the Rio Olympics and get kids moving this Summer.  We explain why eating the right foods are important to maximise performance and give you 5 tips to best fuel kids’ exercise.


When it comes to performance carbohydrate is the body’s preferred fuel.  When we eat carbohydrate rich foods we store this as glycogen in both our liver and muscles.

Carbohydrates digest and absorb into the bloodstream quicker than fats and proteins.  When we exercise, the glycogen acts as our carbohydrate fuel to power our muscles efficiently.

Tip 1 – Before the kids do a full day of exercise, a dinner which includes complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain pasta, rice and bread is important.  For kids, a simple meal of wholegrain pasta, chicken breast pieces, tomato sauce and peas sprinkled with a little cheese is ideal.


When we exercise we cause small tears in the muscles and in order to recover, we need to consume protein to repair and rebuild our muscles. In order to promote optimal rebuilding we should consume protein soon after exercise.   Foods like chicken, turkey, beef, milk, natural yoghurt, nuts and seeds are great sources of protein,

Tip 2 – After a day of exercise, it’s important to get a quick source of protein, a fun way of doing this is to make up a protein smoothie for the kids (but no protein powder please) which makes them feel full, and is tasty too.  We like this banana, peanut butter and cocoa recipe from the Taylor House.


The right type of fat is good for you, especially growing kids.  It plays a number of key roles in relation to exercise, such as acting as an energy source and helping with the absorption of vitamins and minerals.  From a recovery perspective, healthy fat sources such as omega-3 have shown to reduce inflammation and could potentially aid in the recovery process from exercise.

Tip 3 – After exercise: oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds are great sources of omega-3.  For fussy eaters, and children that are allergic to peanuts, we really like the Nakd Nibbles, which are great for kids to munch in the car on the journey home.


These are vitamins and minerals and they can often be overlooked, however they are very important for maximising optimal performance during exercise.

Tip 4 – We have a whole section on vitamins and minerals, but these are the ones worth considering to fuel kids’ exercise:

Vitamin D

This plays an important role in relation to bone health, immunity and muscle function.  You can get this from direct sunlight, but these foods are also great sources of vitamin D.


Iron mineral plays an important role in transporting oxygen in the blood and muscles.


Calcium plays a key role alongside it’s friend Vitamin D to maintain healthy bones.


Lastly, it’s very important for kids to drink enough water, pre-exercise, during and post exercise.  Too often drinks can be loaded with sugar, even the fruit based ones can contain too much sugar, which is bad for teeth and can spike their blood sugar.

Tip 5 – Try mixing juice like pineapple or cherry, which are also high in potassium, with half water to make it more palatable than pure water.

Overall, making sure the kids’ get a balanced meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner will help ensure that they are getting all the right nutrients to fuel kids for exercise.

Sugar Drinks Tax – will it really work?

We recently commented on the UK Government’s report calling for Bold and Brave action to tackle childhood obesity.  This included a number of recommendations, including a sugar drinks tax on full sugar soft drinks.  With George Osborne’s recent announcement in the March 2016 budget to introduce a 20% tax on high sugar soft drinks, we looked at the arguments from various angles:

The nutrition argument on the sugar drinks tax

David Cameron has been under pressure for some time from the medical profession, medical charities and high profile campaigners to set a 20% tax on fizzy sugar-sweetened drinks.   The cited reasons for this decision were:

  1. In the UK, one fifth of children are overweight or obese when they begin school, and this figure increases to one third by the time they leave primary school.
  1. Rotting teeth are the most common reason for children aged between five and nine to be admitted to hospital, and dentists are seeing more young children having the majority of their baby teeth removed.

An overwhelming body of evidence suggests that our children are getting fatter, have poorer dental health, and as obesity is primarily caused by excess calorie intake in relation to energy expenditure, the youngest generation are not taking enough exercise.

With a third of all children’s intake of sugar from fizzy drinks, we at Eat Balanced ask, is a sugar tax on soft drinks a good thing?  Especially when the tax revenues will be spent on increasing physical activity in children?

The poverty argument on the sugar drinks tax

There is a strong correlation between poverty and obesity.  In fact, the number one reason we hear for why families do not buy healthier food and drinks is because they are seen as too expensive.

A recent study argues that the sugar drinks tax will not stop people from poorer backgrounds buying full sugar drinks.  Published by the international research journal, Dr Bratanova states that, “Feeling poor and feeling unequal can simultaneously influence eating behaviour, pushing people to approach high calorie food and consume larger amounts of it.”

On the other hand, Public Health England state that “Increasing the price of high sugar food and drink, whether through taxation or other means, is likely to reduce purchases of these products, at least in the short term.

A third angle here is that many commentators believe that the resulting price increase will only encourage consumers to “downgrade” to cheaper brands of the soft drinks, which will offset some or all of the price increase.  Worse still, the consumer could actually opt for the larger bottles, where we have noticed promoted 2 litre bottles of full sugar colas actually costing LESS than a 500ml bottle!


While looking for examples of other countries who have implemented a similar tax, following the introduction of a tax on sugar sweetened drinks of 10% in Mexico, an overall average 6% reduction in purchases of sugar sweetened drinks was seen in 2014, with higher reductions in purchasing of around 9% on average being seen in lower socio-economic households.

The industry argument on the sugar drinks tax

As a small business, at Eat Balanced we know how hard it can be for businesses to compete in a tough, global economy.  Yes, full sugar soft drinks do contain a lot of sugar, but is it unfair to penalise certain suppliers and customers, when there are so many other foods which contribute to excess sugar?

AG Barr, makers of Irn Bru, experienced a substantial drop in the value of its shares as soon as the sugar drinks tax was announced in the chancellor’s budget. They stated that they had already cut sugar levels so the measure was “extremely disappointing”.

However, measures have been taken in the past to improve public health with little effect on health, like the UK Government’s Responsibility Deal (RD) in 2011, which set out a series of voluntary measures for the food and drink industry to sign up to.

Though reformulation was most commonly listed in the delivery plans, something which we at Eat Balanced make our mission to do, the act of signing up to the voluntary agreements motivated disappointingly few organisations to implement such interventions.  The “softly, softly” approach seemed to have failed. Therefore, in order to make an impact, the UK government seems to have decided that a specific sugar tax might be one of the few options to get companies to actually make a difference.

The tobacco and alcohol argument

Although the sugar drinks tax is a bold and brave action which sends out a huge message to the food and drink industry, as well as the public, it is a long way from being the solution to the much bigger picture.  In the same way that banning smoking in public buildings was only one significant early step towards the huge improvements that we have seen in the instance of smoking in the UK.

In our opinion, the sugar drinks tax will only work as part of a larger obesity strategy.  Indeed, Joanna Lewis, Food for Life Strategy and Policy Director commented: “The Budget announcement of a sugary drinks tax from 2018 is a hugely symbolic and significant step forwards for the long-awaited Childhood Obesity Strategy.”


The 3A’s approach was adopted successfully by the tobacco and alcohol industry.

The strategy is hoped to adopt a similar approach and address the issues relating to:

  • Affordability – e.g. like the new sugar tax, making high sugar drinks less affordable
  • Availability – e.g. like the smoking ban, making it less easy to smoke in public
  • Acceptability – e.g. like the ban on drink driving with a number of advertisements making it socially unacceptable to drink and drive

In conclusion

A Government tax is a drastic action and can be seen by some as an unfair measure.  However, with childhood obesity reaching crisis point, this suggests that it is an issue of child protection.  The team here at Eat Balanced believe that it sends a huge message to the food and drink industry, and perhaps healthy eating and reformulation will now be taken more seriously.  If reformulation is stepped up and seen as a crucial part of a wider strategy it’s something which can only be a good thing.


Health and Social Care Information Centre, National Child Measurement Programme – England, 2013-14, Dec 2014

Royal College of Surgeons Faculty of Dental Surgery, The state of children’s oral health in England, January 2015, p5

Public Health England, Sugar Reduction – the evidence for action, October 2015, p23

Public Health England, Sugar Reduction – the evidence for action, October 2015, p23

Childhood obesity – bold and brave action

The UK Government’s Health Committee recently released their report “Childhood obesity – bold and brave action”. It calls for urgent action on treating obesity and it’s consequences, which costs the government £5.1bn every year, and has suggested a number of recommendations.

New UK Government on childhood obesity

Did you know that one fifth of children are overweight or obese when they begin school, and this figure increases to one third by the time they leave primary school?

The report goes onto highlight that the most deprived children are twice as likely to be obese than the least deprived, therefore childhood obesity is a significant contributor to health inequality.

Recommended actions to tackle childhood obesity

The report calls on a number of areas where further action is required from the top to reach the most vulnerable individuals:

⦁ Tougher controls on price promotions and advertising of unhealthy food and drink
⦁ Taxation of high sugar and fat food
⦁ Product reformulation of foods high in fat, salt and sugar
⦁ Nutrition standards in schools (which is already happening – see Scottish school nutrition regulations)
⦁ Greater powers for local authorities to help families affected by obesity
⦁ Improved education and information on the importance of a balanced diet

This is just a quick summary of some of the recommendations and for anyone that is interested in the detail you can download the report for some bedtime reading.

Our thoughts to tackle childhood obesity

At Eat Balanced, if we were to support one of these initiatives it would be product reformulation of high fat/salt/sugar food and drinks. We aim to improve children’s nutrition by reinventing kid’s favourite foods, like pizza, into tasty, balanced meals.

What do you think?

If you’re involved in the food and drink industry, we’d love to hear you’re thoughts @eatbalanced and tell us what how you would go about tacking childhood obesity.

Youngsters trial world’s first healthy kids pizza

Youngsters attending Enchanted Forest Nursery in Thornliebank will be the first in the UK to ‘taste test’ the world’s first nutrionally balanced pizza for children, due to be launched to market later this year by Glasgow company, Eat Balanced.

The Southside nursery has been selected following discussions  between owners, husband and wife partnerships Bernie and Mariessa Devlin with award winning company Eat Balanced who launched what many are describing as the ‘world’s first healthy pizza’ back in 2012 and which is currently available in Sainsbury’s and website retail giant,

The new 7inch round and 15inch x 9inch slab healthy kids pizza, available in Cheese and Tomato, will be taste-tested by a group of 25 youngsters, aged from 3-5 years, on Friday 8 November at the award winning nursery in Spiersbridge Business Park in Thornliebank.

Donnie Maclean, founder of Eat Balanced notes;

“There is no denying that children love pizza, however, quite rightly, parents are careful in how often this is served to youngsters, because of the high calorie, salt and fat content. Creating a nutrionally balanced range for children was the next logical step for our brand and setting up these trials with Enchanted Forest Nursery is an exciting opportunity for us to get instant feedback from our target market.”

Eat Balanced new kid’s pizzas have been designed for Food Standard Association guidelines for primary age children, including all the main nutrients, including important vitamins and minerals. It contains almost half the calories and less than 60% fat to other frozen pizza brands and is the first to include seaweed in their base.  This is healthier because its sodium level is just 3.5% compared with 40% in salt used by other brands. Eat Balanced use all natural ingredients with no fortifications.

Mariessa Devlin, co-founding Director of Enchanted Forest Nursery adds;

“Within the nurseries, we are vigilant about providing healthy lunches and snacks to our youngsters so currently pizza is not on the menu. When Donnie explained that a nutrionally balanced range was being created for children, we consulted with our Parents’ committees and agreed to assist in the taste trials. This could be the ideal way for us to offer pizza to the children, without the guilt!”

The Eat Balanced healthy kids pizzas will be sampled by children attending Enchanted Forest Nursery in Greenock later this month.

Get in touch with Donnie Maclean, founder and managing director, if you’re interested in the healthy kids pizzas 0141 366 3669,

Children’s menu nutrition review

A meal out with the family is a great way to get a night off from cooking and spend some quality time together.  But are you happy with the children’s menu on offer?  Are restaurants doing enough to consider kid’s nutrition, particularly in terms of fat, sugar and salt?  We put a selection of children’s menu under the nutrition microscope.

US Restaurants

Popular restaurant chains have been under pressure to revamp their children’s menu and design kids recipes that encourage healthy eating.  In the US, they have made little progress to improve the nutritional profile of children’s meals.  Since meals were last analysed in 2008, a recent report found that 97% of nearly 3,500 meals failed to meet the standards set by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest for 4 to 8 year olds.

To meet the CSPI nutrition criteria, kid’s meals must not exceed:

  • 430 calories
  • 35% of calories from saturated fat plus trans fats
  • 35% added sugars

In addition, a full children’s meal must contain less than 770mg of salt.

UK Restaurants

So in the UK, have restaurants managed to remove the chicken nuggets and chips and replace it with chicken breast and potatoes?  Or is the unlimited ice cream and fizzy drinks still high on the menu, with vegetables and milk not getting a mention?  Let’s find out.

We reviewed the childrens’ menu from three popular restaurant chains, to see which offered the most in terms of kid’s nutrition.

Harvester Children’s Menu

The Harvester’s kids menu offered a good variety of options for fussy eaters and included calories beside each meal.  Vegetables included peas, corn and beans with an unlimited salad bar.  All meals would have come in with CSPI nutrition criteria with regards to calories however salt content was still too high.

Toby Carvery Children’s Menu

Although the menu contained no nutritional information, they offered a large selection of roast meats and vegetables.   The challenge with this restaurant is getting the kids to opt for the vegetables as they were not served on their plate.

Drinks included diluted fruit juice and water, a big tick in the box, with no fizzy drinks.

Wetherspoon Children’s Menu

This restaurant performed the worst out of the three, offering high calorie meals with few vegetables and a host of calorific desserts.  The highest calorie meal was chicken nuggets with chips and beans at 706 kcals and 3,200mg of salt.  The children’s banana spilt was 663 calories. Not only was the menu high in saturated fat and salt but the portion sizes were far too large.

How easy is it for you to get your kids to eat a balanced meal when your out for dinner?  Do you have any favourite restaurants, and why?  Tweet us @eatbalanced or leave a comment.