March 10 is National Pack Your Lunch Day!
This is a great opportunity to talk with children about healthy food choices. Consider making lunch together as a class and allow the children to choose and prepare healthy food options.
Healthy eating in a child’s early years can increase their cognitive development and ability to learn for years to come. Childcare providers can support healthy eating by creating effective partnerships with parents to address child nutrition-related concerns.
Because a healthy meal plan should be customized to the age group of the children in your care, it should also take personal allergies and nutritional requirements into account. Providers can learn about these specific requirements in addition to cultural influences on specific children's nutrition through collaborative relationships with families.
It is important to make mealtimes positive and healthy in order to help children develop good eating habits. When classrooms serve family-style meals, it becomes easier to promote healthy eating. In addition, educators can include food and nutrition in lesson planning, stories, and play.
Here are some ideas for discussion with children to promote healthy eating and nutrition.
- Talk about the benefits of eating healthy food.
- Give children opportunities to taste foods and discuss how they tasted, smelled, or texture of the food.
Model healthy eating for children by:
- Eating meals and snacks with the children.
- Trying new foods with the children.
- Eating a variety of healthy foods when in front of children.
Incorporate cooking activities into the classroom.
- Select recipes that incorporate seasonal, fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Recipes should connect with classroom projects. For example, children could plant seeds, help plants grow, harvest them, cook them, and then eat them!
- Incorporate books of interest to the children, increasing opportunities for discussion.
- When children engage in activities around nutrition, including the growth, preparation, and service of foods, they are much more likely to try new foods.
Learn more about child health and nutrition with one of these courses at ChildCareEd.
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