Viewpoint

Children and food

The past few weeks seem to be dominated by food thoughts.

First of all, I had interviewed Deb Blakley, Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian, Nutritionist and mum – who created Kids Dig Food in 2012. We discussed food, children’s body image and the type of eating experiences that children have in our settings. It’s so important that we consider what food times are like for children because these early experiences will help to form children’s perspectives on food, eating and body image.

This really made me think about the different ways that we serve food – from rolling snack time to picnics outdoors to preparing food with the children. Are these chosen just for the convenience of the staff and the nursery/setting’s routines? Or do they change according to the cohort of children in the setting that day and time? How are children’s preferences met? How are the nutritional contents of a meal calculated?

Obviously, practitioners can’t prepare and serve a unique menu for every child, but the settings that I have seen where meal and snack times work really well always have consideration for the children first. For example, knowing which pre-schooler may still need some food as finger food because he or she is still learning how to use a knife and fork. Or gently reminding those children so engrossed in their play that they haven’t yet had a drink this morning.

This type of thoughtful support stops food and meal times becoming a time of stress and anxiety, for both staff and children.

The other food-related interview was with Louise Mercieca from The Health Kick, who was discussing nutritionally appropriate recipes to make with and for children.

The first one that I tried – homemade baked beans – was a huge success and I can say with confidence that I will be making this very easy recipe again.

The second recipe was a bit less successful in some ways. This was Banana Chocolate Mousse, using a banana, an avocado, some cacao powder (much healthier than cocoa powder as it doesn’t have all the added sugars etc.) and a drizzle of syrup. You basically whizz it all up together.

However, I used a large avocado and a smallish banana, so it ended up a bit more like Chocolate Avocado with banana, but it was still an excellent chocolate mousse. And I still have the rest of the box of cacao powder to mix into future recipes to make them super chocolately!

I really enjoyed playing around in the kitchen with different food combinations and it has really made me reflect on the nutritional balance of my own food over the day.

My final food thought (and you’ll see why this was my final food thought in a minute…) was as the ice cream van went past us, music blaring – on a freezing cold day, hailstones still fresh on the pavement and blowing a gale. Initially, I wondered if he actually sold anything that day. Then I wondered why we only have ice-cream vans and not ‘crisp and chocolate’ vans or maybe that should be ‘fruit and smoothies’?

I think I may give the food videos a rest for a week or two!!

Meanwhile, Happy and Healthy Eating to you all.

You can see both Deb Blakley and Louise Mercieca on the Early Years TV back catalogue as a Premium Member. More details here.

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