Healthy Eating at your Early Years Service!

Healthy eating at your early years service provides a great opportunity to encourage a positive attitude towards healthy food. Aistear, The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework places 'Well-being' as one of the main themes, stating that 'The Theme of Well-being is about children being confident, happy and healthy’.

Aim 2 states that 'Children will be as healthy and fit as they can be' and Learning Goal 6 of Aim 2 states that 'In partnership with the adult, children will make healthy choices and demonstrate positive attitudes to nutrition, hygiene, exercise, and routine'.

Developing a Healthy Eating Policy is a great way to ensure that everyone is in agreement about healthy eating. When you have a written policy in place it gives both parents and staff a chance to read, discuss and agree what the healthy eating guidelines are. When you are writing your policy try to include both parents and staff in the discussions.

Once the policy is in place ensure that staff members are fully trained so you can implement the policy effectively. Having a healthy eating policy in place helps new parents understand your approach to healthy eating before signing up to your service.

See the Meal Planning and Healthy Eating Pack

Healthy Eating: Meal Planning and Healthy Eating Pack

Do you need some inspiration around healthy eating for your early years service? Check out our Meal Planning and Healthy Eating Pack available on the Early Years Shop. Sarah Keogh, founder of Eatwell, was commissioned by Canavan Byrne to develop meal plans and recipes for the early years sector.

Sarah has over 20 years experience working in nutrition and dietetics and has a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College, Dublin and a Masters Degree in European Food Regulation. All of the recipes and menus included contain important reminders about potential allergens and how to ensure you are using the healthiest ingredients.

The full Meal Planning and Healthy Eating Pack contains Favourite Recipes for Early Years Settings, List of Allergens, Preschool Menus (5 hours or less – cold food only), Preschool Menus (5 hours or less – including hot meal), Preschool Menus (5 hours or more – including hot meal) and a Healthy Eating Policy (editable to suit your own service requirements).

Services that are sessional can purchase the Part-time packs. The Part-time pack with with hot and cold food excludes the 5 hours or more menus. The Part-time pack with only cold food does not include the Favourite Recipes and only includes the menu plans for cold food.

Healthy Eating Classroom Activities

There are many different fun activities that can be done on a daily basis that will teach the children about different types of food and drink. Here are a few to get you started!

Grow your own food: Children can learn so much from the process of growing their own food. They will learn to understand where food comes from as they get involved in planting the seeds, watering them, harvesting them and preparing/eating the produce. Some of the easiest foods to grow includes strawberries, chives, carrots, potatoes, runner beans and tomatoes. Even if you don't have much space outside it is still possible to grow from an area within the building.

Prepare Healthy Food: Children will love to help prepare their own food. Some of those ideas include fruit kebabs (chop up strawberries, kiwi, orange, banana etc.) and feed onto ice pop sticks, rice cake faces (spread the rice cakes with some kind of spread and make faces using olives, slices of cucumber, peppers etc.). These activities are also a great way to help improve fine motor skills and to make children aware of their different senses of touch, smell and taste!

Toy Food: Ensure to have a good range of toy foods available at your service. Toy food can be used for many different activities when talking about healthy food. Children can be encouraged to group the toy food into different types (all the fruit or vegetables together). Have a discussion about what makes a food healthy. The children can group the healthy foods together and the not so healthy foods together.

Healthy Drinking: When learning about healthy eating it is important to include what fluids are healthy also! Discuss how all forms of life require water to live and how it is important that we drink it everyday. Chop up some fresh fruit to add to water and show how you can make your own healthy drink!

WP Popup