In 2005 The School Food Trust was implemented. This provided a good base line in maintaining a healthy nutrition to all children. On their website (www.childrensfoodtrust.org.uk) they have clear guidelines on how to provide this; they have downloadable documents with information on the nutrient-based standards and how to calculate the nutrient content within the recipes. There are 14 nutrition-base standards with 4 basic requirements. Carbohydrates.
Vitamins and minerals.
It is vital to provide all these ingredients within your daily diet for maintaining a healthy and strong body. Children need good energy sources to help with concentration, playing and learning abilities. Physical activities are important to strengthen the body and help maintain good growth. It is advisable to encourage children to eat what they can and helping them realise when they feel full to stop. Children know when they are hungry and know their own bodies; you shouldn’t sit and make them finish their meals if they say they are full.
This could encourage over eating, which could lead to obesity. Children who are hungry should be encouraged to eat starchy foods with high energy, do not offer foods high in fat or sugar. Carbohydrates help provide a good energy source for children, the main sources of carbohydrates are starches, sugar and fibre. You should offer things like bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, noodles, oats, yam, couscous, wheat grains, breakfast cereals, wheat grains, lentils, red kidney beans and black beans.
It is advisable to try and use whole grain varieties where possible as these are a good source of fibre also. Protein has an important role to play in the rebuilding and repairing of tissues and growth. You Good sources of protein are; meat, fish, milk, cheese, yogurts, seeds and nuts (being aware of nut allergies), red kidney beans, lentils, alternative meat sources.
You will need to be prepared for vegetarians and vegans as they will require alternatives to dairy products such as soya, oat or rice milk. Vitamins and minerals help to fight of illnesses and keep the body’s immune system in balance. Fats are needed in small amounts to provide warmth and protection to your vital organs. This must be eaten in small amounts and use unsaturated fats where possible such as; olive oil or rapeseed oil. When you are using pre-packed food always look for the lower in fat option, this practice should be used consistently.
Products high in fat such as; butter, lard, margarine, fat spreads, oils and dressing, deep fried food, garlic bread, pastries, cakes, biscuits and creamy puddings should be avoided where possible. You should grill or bake food instead of frying as this is healthier. There are five food groups where these can be found:
Fruit and vegetables.
Bread, rice, potatoes and pasta.
Meat, fish eggs and beans.
Food and drinks.
Milk and dairy.
You will need to vary your recipes to ensure there is a good balance of all sources. The 14 nutrition-based standards are:
Children should always have a good balance of 3 healthy meals a days with healthy choice snacks in between. The Department of Health has a good leaflet showing the eat well plate, this shows a good outline of how to get the balance right.
You should have at least 5 portions per day of starchy foods such as potatoes and cereals, 5 portions per day of fruits and vegetables, 3 portions per day of milk and dairy products, 2 portions per day of high protein foods and try to avoid high fat and salt products as much as possible. Water is vital for children’s body’s and should be offered consistently throughout the day, water makes up two thirds of our body and needs to be topped up regularly. Water is constantly being lost through breathing, sweating and urinating.
Unit TDA 2.14: Support children and young people at meal or snack times – Task 1. Know the principles of healthy eating for children and young people. Describe examples of healthy meals and snacks for children and young people – 1.2
Children need to have a balanced diet of 3 healthy meals a day with healthy snacks in between. Some children are very fussy eaters and this can become a barrier to providing their body with essential nutrients. You may need to hide vegetables within homemade sauces, the children often do not realise this and it is a good way of getting the nutrients into their system. Within our pre-school setting we only provide a snack that provides a choice of: Cereal – whole grain and low in sugar.
Fruit – varies, strawberries, grapes, apples, pears, cucumber, banana, pineapple, kiwi, tomatoes or raisins. Crackers – with a thin layer of low fat butter.
Drink – milk or water.
The children are encouraged to have a good input stating, what they would like to eat. We always provide cereals and fruit first leaving the crackers until last. You should always make snack time a fun and social time, incorporating good table manners, this helps to promote a positive environment around eating occasions and always offer opportunities for children to try different foods.
I recently had a child who refused to eat any fruit and chose to sit and wait until cracker time; with lots of encouragement he is now eating small amounts of different fruits each few days. It is important to provide healthy meals and snacks such as; raw vegetables and fruits, snacks low in fat, sugar and salts as this helps with; Concentration, learning and behaviour.
Promotes physical growth and development.
Builds up strength.
Promotes resistance to infections.
Minimises future health risks: Iron deficiency, anaemia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and dental decay. Helps to establish a good healthy eating patterns and habits for life. (all of which is stated on: (pre-school.org.uk).
A child, who has a good healthy breakfast such as, Porridge with fruit and honey added, has a good start to the day. Porridge is a good source of energy that has slow release benefits, by eating a good breakfast the child has a nice full tummy and will feel calm and rested. When you provide a child with a sugary snack such as cakes or biscuits, you will see the up and down effect it has on them.
They may become hyperactive and lack in concentration with dips in their mood as their body returns to its normal levels. You should provide snacks that are wholesome and provide good energy such as popcorn – unsweetened or unsalted, this is also a good source of fibre, fresh fruit or vegetable sticks are also great snacks providing good sources of vitamins. Providing a lunch such as baked potatoes filled with either tuna and sweetcorn/baked beans/cheese.
Desserts should be low in sugar and made from fresh healthy ingredients such as, natural yogurt with fresh fruit, wholewheat pancakes with a fresh fruit filling. When preparing food and snacks it’s very important to use healthy ingredients, this promotes a healthy body and peaceful mind.