Supporting parents with nutritional advice
It’s important to remember how our choices, preferences and food behaviours are really influential to our children. Small children don’t have a voice when it comes to food choices and are heavily influenced by parents, as well as their Childcare setting.
They will mimic and adopt the food language we use and the food we provide for them could shape both their future health and future food habits.
We spoke to Louise Mercieca, Nutritional Therapist, published author and presenter of Early Years TV Food.
Here she gives us some great advice on how to help parents understand the role they play in their child’s future nutritional habits – as well as ways we can support them.
“One thing I often hear is “Never did me any harm” and “I always had this when I was young”. Our children today face a food landscape that is quite different to that of any previous generation before them. Due to many ‘advancements’ in convenience we now have many more fast-food outlets, more processed food options available and an increasing number of artificial ingredients in our food supply as the norm.
It can be frustrating and confusing to navigate the food options available and keep up with the media portrayal of what is good for us and our children. For me, the biggest way we can support our children to have a healthy relationship with food and to encourage healthier eating habits is to educate them.
No one likes simply being told what to eat or what not to eat.
Children are more than capable of linking nutrition to health, so work with them and involve them at each stage and this will make healthy changes feel more like an inclusive family activity rather than a battle!
There are many issues with children and food, sometimes this can just be a phase of fussy eating but it can also be quite serious. We all have to have a lifelong relationship with food. The ability to enjoy food and make healthy choices not only impacts on our overall health and well-being but also affects how confident a person is, how sociable and even, how successful. (Imagine a child who will only eat a cheese sandwich, not for any real reason just preference and asserting their own independence over that choice, as an older child or teenager, this has huge health implications but also affects their social life and how they are perceived by their peers. As they grow, they may be limited in career progression if eating out & entertaining forms part of their future job role, it will impact on social outings and travel and their food habits are likely to be passed on to their own children.
The food we eat really does have a big impact on our whole life”.
To help provide direct support for parents, Louise has contributed a number of articles and recipes to ParentHub.
ParentHub brings helpful resources directly to parents through their ParentZone app. With a wealth of resources at their fingertips – including these great pieces from Louise – parents can get help and education on various topics whenever they need it.
Don’t have ParentZone yet?
Louise has also written a fantastic eBook packed with more information for anyone looking after children. Both Parents and Practitioners can benefit from reading this free eBook Nutrition in the Early Years