Tips for Healthy Eating is this week’s Thursday Tip from Canavan Byrne. Having a healthy eating policy at your Early Years Service provides an opportunity to encourage a positive attitude around healthy food. Well-being is one of the four main Aistear themes stating that ‘Well-being is about children being confident, happy and healthy‘.
Aim 2 States. ‘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’. We have come up with some Healthy Eating Tips that you can use to help with your healthy eating.
1. Healthy Eating Should Be Made Fun: There are lots of different ways that you can incorporate healthy eating into your daily routine. The main thing is to make it fun for the children. Songs, stories and rhymes help to set the stage to a really playful environment in which children are inspired to explore new foods. Here are a few ideas that you may like to use in your setting to get you started on your Healthy Eating Journey.
2. Eat The Rainbow Challenge: Create a chart where every day is labelled a different colour, i.e. Mon – Red, Tues – Green, Wednesday – Orange, Thursday – Yellow, Friday – Blue/Purple. Introduce the children to a different colour fruit or vegetable each day. Allow them to explore by touching, tasting and smelling the various foods. Talk about the food and explain to the children in simple language how the food can help make them fast, strong, smart etc. Explain to the children that they should eat foods that are colourful – that they should eat the rainbow!
3. Create A Vegetable Patch: Find an area that you can create your very own fruit and vegetable patch. Give the children ownership of it by allowing them to plant the seeds, water and care for the plants. Use the vegetable patch as an opportunity to talk about where food comes from and how it grows. Once the children begin to discuss between them, ensure to note any emerging interests they may have around healthy eating that you can use for the following days and weeks in the learning environment.
4. Healthy Snack Makers: Use old magazines and brochures to allow the children to cut out some healthy foods. Once they have them cut out they can make healthy snacks from them. For example, carrots sticks with mashed avocado, cheese on crackers, scrambled eggs on toast, fruit and yoghurt.
5. 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 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.