We all know the importance of healthy eating, but do we realise just how important it is to ensure that growing children are eating a healthy and balanced diet? In many working parent households, the au pair or nanny is responsible for preparing meals for the children. That is why it is crucial that you aware of what constitutes a “healthy and balanced meal”. By teaching children the importance of eating well, you are developing lifelong benefits which will stay with them throughout their childhood and adult life. The nutritional needs of children are very important as diet affects all facets of a child’s life.
- Encourage eating and snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables by having them cut up, ready to eat, and easily accessible.
- Limit children’s juice intake. Water is a healthy option if they are thirsty.
- Model healthy, active living by walking, playing, bicycling, or swimming together as this adds to the balanced lifestyle.
- Limit their intake of junk food such as chips/sweets/fizzy drinks/cakes/biscuits. These foods have no nutritional value at all.
- Prepare fresh foods such as fruit and veggies rather than ready-made or processed foods
- Communicate with the child’s parents regarding the child’s diet, keep them informed of what the child eats as well as chat to them about specific foods they would like the child to eat.
- If you pack the the child’s school lunch, be sure to prepare a healthy and balanced meal to ensure the child has sustained energy throughout the day, especially if they have after school sport.
- During the hot summer months, make fruit ice lollies with the children rather than giving them ice cream. This is a healthier alternative.
- Perhaps have one day a week when they are rewarded with a sweetie of their choice. This will limit sugary foods on the other days as well as give them something to look forward to.
- If you do the grocery shopping for the family, be sure to stock up on fresh foods, such as fruits, veggies as well as proteins and raw foods.
- Make smoothies with the children after school, use plain unsweetened yoghurts and fruits. This is a fun and nutritious activity.
- If making sandwiches, use whole grain/brown breads rather than white breads. Fill the sandwiches with fresh foods, such as salad and cheese rather than spreads which are full of salts/sugars.
Always keep in mind the benefits of healthy eating. Try be a role model for the children by also eating a balanced diet. Involve the children in the preparation of the meals to show them how to prepare healthy meals. Being an au pair/nanny you have a fantastic opportunity to influence and ensure the child eats a balanced and healthy diet. Use this opportunity to instill good eating habits. Along with a healthy diet, encourage the child to be active and engage in sports/outside activities with them. Do some research on fun/healthy meals and activities to do with children.
Go out there and be the best au pair you can be, changing young lives one piece of fruit at a time.