As Early Years Practitioners, we define healthy eating as encompassing the five main food groups: fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates, dairy, pulses, fish, eggs, and meat, fats, sugar, and water.
Establishing healthy eating habits from a young age is crucial for children’s overall well-being and development. By introducing children to a variety of nutritious foods early on, we can shape their preferences and instil healthy behaviours that contribute to a diverse and nutrient-rich diet.
Forming Healthy Eating Behaviors in Early Years
Shaping Preferences and Expanding Food Acceptance
Early years settings play a vital role in shaping children’s food preferences and eating habits. We recognize that exposing children to a wide range of foods at a young age increases their acceptance of new flavours and textures. By offering a diverse diet, rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, we lay the foundation for a healthy and happy child. At The Old Station Nursery, we prioritize nutritious meals prepared from scratch, using fresh ingredients and organic vegetables whenever possible. Our Nursery Cooks follow the guidelines set by the Schools Food Trust, ensuring that mealtimes are not only nutritious but also enjoyable for children.
Involving Children in the Journey of Healthy Eating
Engaging Children in Food Preparation and Cooking
As children explore the wonders of food, it is essential to involve them in the process of meal preparation. Even young children can participate by helping to choose recipes, selecting healthy ingredients, or simply observing and absorbing the cooking experience. Engaging children in this way makes the entire mealtime experience more enjoyable and encourages them to develop a positive relationship with food.
Five Fruits and Vegetables a Day: Simple and Nutritious
Incorporating Nutrient-Rich Foods into Daily Meals
Nutritionists emphasize the importance of consuming five fruits and vegetables a day. Achieving this can be as straightforward as enjoying cucumber with hummus as a morning snack or incorporating a vegetable curry with sweet potato, lentils, courgettes, and peppers for lunch. Afternoon snacks can consist of a bowl of mixed fruits like strawberries, pineapple, banana, and apple, providing a variety of tastes. Dinner can be a chance to experiment with flavours by preparing a spaghetti bolognese with added tomatoes, mushrooms, and kidney beans. These key nutrients are crucial for children’s energy levels, cognitive development, physical growth, and overall well-being.
The Role of Balanced Diet and The Eatwell Guide
Guidelines for Well-Balanced Meals and Optimal Nutrition
A balanced diet is essential for healthy eating habits, as it provides children with the necessary nutrients for growth. The NHS’s “Eatwell Guide” offers detailed recommendations on food group proportions to achieve a well-balanced meal. It also includes recipes and helpful tips. Prioritizing good nutrition is crucial as poor eating habits can lead to various health issues such as obesity, tooth decay, or high blood pressure.
Establishing Healthy Eating Patterns in Early Childhood
Collaboration with Families and Promoting Well-being
Early childhood is a critical period for establishing healthy eating patterns. At our nurseries, we are committed to working collaboratively with families to foster these habits. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to your nursery team. For ideas on recipes and engaging cooking activities to enjoy with your child at home, visit our ‘Cooking and Baking with Children’ activities page and explore our nursery recipes.
In conclusion, nurturing healthy eating habits from a young age is vital for children’s well-being and long-term health.