Recently, at Graces, some of the team have been on nutrition training where we have looked at the benefits of healthy eating. By giving your child a healthy balanced diet, you are ensuring that they are getting all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that children need for healthy growth and development. Certain nutrients are required for a variety of reasons. Some nutrients worth noting are:
- Calcium and Vitamin D: Essential for the normal growth and development of bones in children.
- Iron: Supports normal cognitive development in children.
- Vitamin D: Helps support the immune system.
- Omega-3 DHA supports normal brain function.
This is just a small list of important nutrients and their uses in the body. You can see that children will need foods that give them all these nutrients for their growth and development.
In Sapling’s we have been looking at foods and the importance of a balanced diet. We have found that the best way is to make food fun – it shouldn’t be something you are forcing them to do or eat. To do this we use a range of different activities such as cooking, growing our own vegetables, food tasting, playing food games such as the “Healthy Eating” game and we provide a range of different foods from all areas of the “Healthy Eating Plate” (https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/healthydiet/eatwell.html) for the children to play with in the home corner. We are also role models. As a practitioner, it’s important to show by example. We eat all these healthy foods ourselves with the children at lunch time, showing the children how enjoyable they can be. During lunch times we talk about the different food groups and what area we think these foods belong, we also talk about how these help us to grow and develop, for example, dairy gives us healthy teeth and bones, carbohydrates give us energy, protein heals our skin and builds muscle and vitamins help us to grow and develop. We allow the children the opportunity to self serve their meals giving them the chance to try all the different parts of the meal. We also get the children involved in the process of choosing what they want to make during cooking activities asking them what ingredients they think we need.