We are what we eat. Healthy eating habits for children and the right nutrition ensures our body performs at its peak. For young children, nutrition also helps growth and development.
For healthy eating to become a habit for children, encourage them to become familiar with every stage of the process; from selection, through preparation, eating and ending with cleaning up. The trick is to make each step of the process accessible to children (with the adult doing the cooking or chopping with sharp knives) and fun for them to participate.
Raw food is the easiest for children to prepare. Red, yellow and green capsicum, red and green apples, yellow bananas, orange carrots, green beans, red tomatoes, golden mandarins, the white and gold of hard boiled eggs and lots of other green stuff. The ability to shape these foods into enticing shapes and even landscapes helps connect the child to visually appealing yet easy to prepare dishes.
If you need help, there are plenty of resources online such as the Australian site Healthy Kids.
Nutrition Australia’s new Healthy Eating Pyramid could be a useful guide. It provides a simple visual guide to the types and proportion of foods that that promote good health. Nutrition Australia’ range of resources and fact sheets about healthy eating and children might also be handy to print out for your childcare centre.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has recipes for healthy children’s party food, including some amazing frozen fruit and yoghurt creations.
Do it right, whether for a party or, better still, on a daily basis, and you will have as much fun as the children.
Training in promoting and providing healthy food is provided through Selmar’s Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. This cert III provides the skills to support children to eat healthy food and plan food and drinks that are nutritious and appropriate for each child.