Proper eating habits are essential for children from a young age. Our own cook prepares breakfast, morning snack, a hot lunch and tea each day for all the children. We aim to provide a healthy balanced diet using as much fresh food as possible. Variety is the key. New ideas are introduced gradually to picky eaters and children are encouraged to see how food is sourced, prepared and cooked. Sugar and salt additives are avoided where possible. Children are introduced to the food pyramid and older children are shown how their diet is made up, so that they are part of the decision making process when it comes to selecting their foods.
As a society we are failing to create an environment for our children that is conducive to healthy eating and lifetime physical activity. All the current research is painting a bleak picture of our nation’s, and in particular, our children’s health. Findings from UK research reveal a staggering increase in childhood obesity since 1976. Between 1976 and 2008 childhood obesity increased;
- From 5% to 10% amongst 2 – 5 year old
- From 6% to 20% amongst 6-11 year olds
- From 5% to 18% amongst 12-19 year olds
Not only do obese children face an uncertain future health picture, they are at risk right now from the debilitating effects of extra weight, such as high blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure levels which are risk factors for heart disease. It is estimated that half of obese school aged children will remain obese in to adulthood.
The obesity crisis has not happened overnight. It has been 20-30 years in the making. And it will not be solved overnight. It will take many initiatives from all quarters to “flip the switch” in our habits and to try to get back to the simpler way of eating and preparing meals that our previous generations embraced.
At Sunflowers Childcare, we take healthy nutrition very seriously and we have taken small encouraging steps on the path to promoting healthy living. We all know that children are like sponges when it comes to new information and when this is presented to them in a suitable and age appropriate manner, they can come away with valuable pieces of information that helps them make healthier decisions about their eating.
Our Health Promotion Week each year gives children a focused opportunity to learn about their diet and wellbeing. Outside specialists in nutrient and dental practice come to speak to the children about healthy eating. A comprehensive resource pack for parents provides them with useful tips and ideas to promote healthy wellbeing from an early age with their children in their own homes.