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It’s easy to be daunted as you look at the labels on food packaging today. From supermarkets having their own ‘star’ rating to the Health Foundation’s seal of approval, some things having more preservatives, colours and sugar than you would have thought possible for a basic item. It makes choosing healthy foods for children more difficult than ever before and you also have to contest with allergies, fussiness and intolerances.
As a child’s body and brain are developing, it is crucial that they are getting nutritionally balanced meals.
How Does What Your Child Eats Affect Them?
Poor nutrition can cause numerous health problems. The effects of being overweight and obese as a child can lead to problems that progress well into adulthood.
What your child eats can affect their overall health, their behaviour, and their ability to deal with emotions and impulses. What your child eats also impacts their concentration and ability to learn. Children who eat well when they are young are far more likely to develop healthy eating habits as an adult.
What Foods Should Your Child Be Eating?
There are so many guides on what your child should and shouldn’t be eating, but in general, it’s safest to provide a varied diet and avoid processed foods. Things that your child will gain great nutritional sustenance from include:
- Healthy sources of protein such as fish, eggs, nuts and lean meats
- Whole-grain bread and cereal
- Milk, cheese, yoghurts and other dairy products (without added sugar)
- Plenty of water
- A mixture of several fruits and vegetables on offer daily
- A healthy breakfast to start their day
How Can You Encourage Healthy Habits?
Parents are often desperate to get their children to eat vegetables, resorting to trying to find ways to ‘hide’ vegetables in their dinners. Hidden vegetables are fine as long as your child is also offered these vegetables in other ways. Encouraging healthy habits needs to be a combination of persistence but not forcefulness. You can encourage healthy habits by:
- Making it a social occasion: Eat at the table together as a family
- Always put healthy foods on your child’s plate: Encourage them to try new things but don’t force them to eat what’s on their plate. Children’s taste buds are developing and they might not like carrots for now, but in 6 months time, they might love them! If you keep offering it to them, you’ll see when they are ready to make that food item a part of their diet.
- Garden with your children: Turn your backyard into an edible garden. Your children will love tasting what they grow and they’ll get a nutritional benefit from it too.
What Should You Look for In an Early Childhood Centre’s Meals?
When parents consider a childcare centre for their children, healthy nutrition is one of the main points to consider. At ToBeMe, our meals are prepared with fresh, in season and locally grown ingredients. The kitchen opens up onto the restaurant allowing Teresa – the Chef – to interact with the children and families about the food they are eating and its ingredients.
Just like the ToBeMe Early Learning CurriculumTM, our nutritional approach is driven by the needs of each and every child. Through the four key connections of learning and teaching, your child is given the best opportunity to learn and grow. Contact us for more information today.