Engage children in healthy, sustainable eating habits with these fun activities…
Achieving a healthy diet for ourselves can often be a challenge, but knowing what we can do to inspire the little ones in our care to eat nutritious, healthy foods can be an even greater one!
The British Nutrition Foundation’s annual Healthy Eating Week takes place between 13 and 17 June and offers an opportunity for early years settings to take part in challenges and activities related to healthy lifestyles, based on a series of daily themes.
Now in its 10th year, Healthy Eating Week 2022 will focus on the overarching message of ‘Eat well for you and the planet!’. Through a series of resources and activities, the week aims to help raise awareness of healthier, sustainable eating. Here are this year’s five daily challenges:
Fibre is important for keeping our digestive systems healthy. Foods that provide fibre include wholegrain varieties of starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, breakfast cereals, brown rice, and wholewheat pasta, potatoes with their skin on, fruit and vegetables and pulses (such as red kidney beans or lentils).
Note that wholegrain or high-fibre foods may fill a young child up quickly so that they don’t get the energy and nutrients they need. After the age of two, you can gradually introduce more wholegrain foods to children.
Use the Tasting guide to help you set up a tasting activity to allow children to sample different types of wholegrain breakfast cereals (aim for unsweetened varieties). Remember to check for allergies, intolerances or special dietary requirements before you do any tasting with children.
Ask all the children to spend a few minutes thinking of their favourite fruit or vegetable. Can they describe their favourite without naming it, and see if the rest of the children can guess what it is?
View the full activity
Young children need protein in their diet to help them grow and develop. We are all encouraged to eat a wider variety of protein foods that includes plant protein sources, to improve our health and the health of the planet.
Protein foods can include pulses (such as beans, lentils or chickpeas), foods made from pulses (such as tofu, dahl or soya mince), fish, eggs, nuts and seeds (if no allergies, and only ground or as a nut or seed butter to avoid choking), lean meat and poultry.
Print the Protein foods cards and separate the images from the name labels. Show the children the different foods and ask them what they are called. Can they match the name labels to the images? Can they tell which foods are animal sources of protein and which are plant-based?
We are all recommended to have about 6 to 8 drinks (glasses or cups of fluid) a day and more if the weather is hot or we are being physically active.
There aren’t specific recommendations in the UK for how much fluid children should get in a day, but based on guidance from the EU, younger children need relatively smaller drinks (about 120–150ml per drink).
Print a large copy of the Water tracker to display in your setting. Allow the children (and adults!) to add a blue dot to the water jug every time they have a drink of tap water. You can use the tracker for a day or the whole week.
According to Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), commonly wasted food and drink items in UK households include fresh potatoes, bread and milk. So much goes into producing our food – water, energy, land, and transport. Reducing the amount of food we waste helps save money and saves wasting the planet’s resources.
Print Food waste or food wasted? Cut out the images on the first sheet and talk to the children about whether they could have been eaten, or if they should be in the food waste bin. Attach the images to the appropriate sheet.
Talk about ways we can reduce food waste, such as only taking food we will eat or sharing a large portion of food with others (for example halving a large apple or banana), putting food we cannot eat in the fridge (covered) and eating it later on. Food safety and hygiene should also be discussed when talking about ideas for reducing food waste with the children.
Find out more about the British Nutrition Foundation’s Healthy Eating Week 2022 including how to register your early years setting.