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Healthy eating habits for the under 5s (and for all!)

Here at Alfriston Pre-School we are always focused on healthy eating habits for the children and staff, but especially now. During the pandemic our life styles have all changed and we have all experienced added challenges, many people working from home and many parents struggling to be able to afford their usual go-to meals for their children or find it difficult to keep their children or themselves active and healthy.

There are some key factors that can contribute to maintaining a healthy life style;

· A balanced variety of the 5 food groups – Bread, rice, potatoes and pasta.

One portion in each meal.

· Fruit and vegetables – One portion at each meal and snack.

· Milk, cheese and yoghurt – around 3 portions of these per day.

· Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, pulses and proteins – 2 – 3 small portions a day.

· Oils, butter and fat spreads – small amounts around 2 per day.

At the Pre-School (Pre-COVID-19) we would offer a healthy snack for the children during the morning, on a typical day the children could choose from sticks of carrot, cucumber or pepper with a hummus dip and a rice cake. We use real crockery for the children, china cups and plates and they are encouraged to clear the table into washing up bowels after they have finished.

· Drinking 6 – 8 drinks a day – Ideally this will be water or milk and between meals.

At the Pre-School we have water and a variety of milks (oat, cow, rice, soya and coconut) on offer for the children during the day and they all bring their own beaker.

· Routine – Along with a strong sleep routine a food routine is important for toddlers as it will stabilise their energy and nutrient intake, low moods can be caused by hunger or low blood sugar levels.

· Plan your meals – This helps keep costs and trips out to the shops down if you know what you will need each and every day. You can plan each meal to be balanced and nutritious.

· A social time – Children learn by copying others, eating together in a group allows children the opportunity to see others enjoying different foods.

At the Pre-School we all eat our packed lunches together, all age groups of children and the staff. We encourage quite conversation during the meal creating a ‘family’ atmosphere. We discuss what they have in their sandwiches, compare the colour of our Tupperware and talk about what we had for breakfast. It is a lovely tome to get to know the children and for them to have a chance to talk and to be heard. We have recently added an electric candle to the lunch table which keeps the children fascinated for ages and we always have a clean table cloth!

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