Food choices contribute to children’s behaviour, brain development, digestion, weight, dental health and their attitudes towards food well into the future.
As early childhood educators, we must always focus on offering children a range of colours and textures in their meals and getting the healthy eating message across. In fact, this year at Bonkers Beat Music Kinder in Aspendale, our working bee theme was ‘Be Healthy’, which was a great way of keeping the conversation about healthy eating flowing between educators, families and children.
We find making smoothies is a fun and very tasty way of enjoying healthy foods and love watching children exploring a huge variety of tastes and textures as they work on developing those taste buds! In fact, at the working bee the children made 120 frozen smoothie pops to refresh everybody (with a little help from our educators too…)!
Bonkers the Monkey is a huge fan of eating healthy, delicious foods too. He has enjoyed many healthy eating adventures, and you can take a look at him enjoying delicious, nutritious food in this album: http://on.fb.me/1XpjMQm
TIPS FOR HEALTHY KIDS LUNCHES
As the end of the year approaches, it might be time for some parents to start thinking about how to put together a nutritious lunch for school in 2016! Sometimes we even need ideas for lunches for kids on days at home and weekends too.
The first step to a great lunch with lots of variety is a good lunch box. Aim for something with a few different compartments to minimise the need for wrappings. The Organised Housewife also suggests that lunch boxes are:
-Sealed tight for freshness
-Easy to clean
-Not too big, not too small
Depending on your climate and choice of snacks, an option for a lunch bag or box that is insulated or able to be cooled is a great idea too.
From carrot sticks to crackers, popcorn to berries and everything in between – the options are endless for lunchbox snacks. There are plenty of creative and fun ideas available online for cutting sandwiches into adorable shapes and presenting fruit and veg as fun-size kebabs too – see our list of resources at the end of the blog and explore.
Healthy alternatives can take a little more planning and/or time, but it’s well worth the extra effort just to know exactly what is going into children’s little, growing bodies. Some muesli bar and slice recipes are actually incredibly simple AND incredibly delicious. For a healthy alternative that’s as easy as can be, fruit is always a winner!
Another great tip to consider when putting lunches together is to include children in preparing the lunch. Simple spreading, arranging and cutting of sandwich toppings is a useful life skill. Plus, children tend to be more interested in eating something they helped to make too! Eventually, children will be excited to make their own healthy lunches and might even come up with some tasty combinations you hadn’t thought of.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
While you’re focusing on the wellbeing of children, spare a thought for the wellbeing of the environment too and aim for a rubbish-free lunchbox. This means less risk of flyaway wrappers not making it to the correct bin and chances are the less packaging a lunchbox item has, the healthier and more natural it is.
Another very important consideration is allergies – please make sure you’re aware of the allergen policy at your child’s place of education as this can vary. We all have to do our bit to protect young children from risks, and in some cases allergic reactions pose enormous risk to some children.
Some handy resources are listed for you below and we’d love to see pics of your lunchbox creations on Facebook – post yours on our page if you’d like to share and we can all inspire one another!