All childminders understand about the importance of promoting healthy eating with the children we look after. Healthy foods give children the right energy they need to grow and to be fit and healthy. We are also very aware that eating too much of the wrong type of food can contribute to children getting fat.
Unfortunately, we also all know that everyone likes some food more than others. From a very early age it is easy for children to see that the foods that taste good, that they like the best, seem to be the ones that grown-ups would rather they didn’t eat! From the inevitable moment that a young child tastes his first chocolate there is no going back to a time before chocolate existed!
One of the biggest obstacles to promoting healthy eating can be parents. It is horrible when you spend time giving healthy snacks and meals to see fussy children being collected by ‘guilty’ parents offering them sweets and treats as soon as they leave your door. It makes you wonder why you are bothering.
But instead, think of it the other way around. See it as part of your responsibility to educate parents about healthy eating by passing on healthy eating messages. Remember that while the child is in your care you have the opportunity to show them how to do things right. While they are with you, you have an opportunity to try to educate them in healthy foods and hope that some of what you are teaching will carry over to their home life.
Don’t forget about drink. It is important to make sure that the children are getting enough fluids. Did you know that it is a statutory requirement that children have drinking water available to them throughout the day?
Where food comes from
Young children, especially those living in urban and suburban environments, may have very little idea about where their food comes from (before it got to the shop). Growing your own vegetables, picking your own fruit and visiting a farm so that children can learn more are essential activities for this age group.
It is also important to teach children what ‘meat’ is. Only after they understand that when they are eating sausages, ham or bacon, they are eating part of a pig, etc., can they then be introduced to the idea of a ‘vegetarian’ (someone who doesn’t eat meat for cultural, religious or personal reasons).
What are the key points I should tell the children?
- Everyone needs to eat food. It helps you grow and be fit and healthy.
- Everyone likes some food more than others.
- You are old enough to start making some good choices about eating sensibly. Make sure your body gets everything it needs by eating many different kinds of foods.
- Too many sweet and fatty foods will rot your teeth, and help you to put on weight.
- Watch what you eat. Some foods have a lot of fat. Some foods have a lot of salt. Some foods have a lot of sugar. Do not have too much of these foods.
- We all like and eat different foods, and this is ok.
- Most people buy their food from shops. Some people grow some of their own foods such as vegetables and fruit.
- Meat comes from animals. A vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat meat.
Products that can help you to explore healthy eating and ‘where food comes from’