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Healthy Eating with Early Years Children

Why is healthy eating important for children?

Healthy eating is extremely important especially from a young age, making sure your children start with a healthy diet can determine their future of eating. Good nutrition is essential during childhood because it's a time for rapid growth, development and activity, it is also a vital time for healthy tooth development. Encouraging good nutrition during the early years of life is an investment in the health of our population for years to come. 

Why is a healthy diet important from a young age?

Healthy nutrition is extremely important from a young age because of rapid growth and development. Eating habits are formed in the first few years of life which means, poor nutrition during this period can cause problems, for example, increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Growing children need plenty of energy (calories) and nutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals). By giving your child a balanced diet, you are ensuring that they are getting all the essential vitamins, and minerals.

Below is a list of nutrients that children need:

  • Calcium and Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3

The sooner you introduce healthy eating to your children the easier they will be able to develop a healthy relationship with food that can last a lifetime. The main benefits of a healthy diet include the following:

  • Stabilizes their energy.
  • Improves moods and way of thinking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Prevent mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
  • Prevents physical health problems like diabetes and heart conditions.

How can I encourage my children to eat healthy food?

Getting your children to eat healthily can be extremely difficult at times but by going with some new creative ways of cooking and preparing food, you could encourage your children to eat healthy all the time.

  • Get creative in the kitchen by making food fun to look at and eat by cutting vegetables into funny shapes to make your children laugh. 
  • Take them food shopping and let them get involved with the food choices.
  • Let them choose what they want for dinner out of a group of food groups.
  • Be a good role model by showing children how important it is to eat healthy.
  • Make healthy snacks available by making sure there is always fruit and healthy beverages in the house instead of chocolate and crisps.

Make mealtimes a priority

Sitting up the table is extremely beneficial; this can establish healthy eating habits and provide your children with comfort. Bringing your family together at one table for food can influence how your children see food. Sitting at the table means you can monitor your children's eating habits, to see if there is anything that might need encouraging more or praising more.

  • Children need routine so knowing they have dinner or other meals with their family can make them feel safe.
  • Monitoring eating habits can help acknowledge if your children are having any issues with eating which means you can encourage better eating habits.
  • Setting an example for your children by eating healthy means your children will eat healthy too. Also, making sure you are finishing your food and not letting anything go to waste means your children will hopefully follow in your footsteps.

How can I encourage my children to eat healthy food?

Getting your children to eat healthily can be extremely difficult at times but by going with some new creative ways of cooking and preparing food, you could encourage your children to eat healthy all the time.

  • Get creative in the kitchen by making food fun to look at and eat by cutting vegetables into funny shapes to make your children laugh. 
  • Take them food shopping and let them get involved with the food choices.
  • Let them choose what they want for dinner out of a group of food groups.
  • Be a good role model by showing children how important it is to eat healthy.
  • Make healthy snacks available by making sure there is always fruit and healthy beverages in the house instead of chocolate and crisps.

Make mealtimes a priority

Sitting up the table is extremely beneficial; this can establish healthy eating habits and provide your children with comfort. Bringing your family together at one table for food can influence how your children see food. Sitting at the table means you can monitor your children's eating habits, to see if there is anything that might need encouraging more or praising more.

  • Children need routine so knowing they have dinner or other meals with their family can make them feel safe.
  • Monitoring eating habits can help acknowledge if your children are having any issues with eating which means you can encourage better eating habits.
  • Setting an example for your children by eating healthy means your children will eat healthy too. Also, making sure you are finishing your food and not letting anything go to waste means your children will hopefully follow in your footsteps.

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