Food served during the school day can be one of the most important factors in deciding what preschool to enroll a child in. Whether you’re a parent looking for a preschool for your child or you run your own childcare center,it’s important to pay close attention to what children are being fed while at school.
The right diet can boost a child’s immune system and in turn cut down on days missed from school,reduce the number of germs passed to healthy children and prevent staff from getting sick. Plus healthier eating leads to an increase in children’s attention span,creativity and mood while reducing behavior problems.
Food preferences form very early,within the first few years of eating solid food. A child who spends the majority of their day in preschool is learning what proper nutrition is from the school staff. Even more so than at home. So,if a school serves chicken nuggets,pizza,white bread and sugary deserts,it’s not good. Children will learn to prefer those foods,setting up unhealthy food choices for life. And begin lifelong habits that are extremely difficult to break later.
Even well intentioned teachers and staff can make poor food selections. Without looking at nutritional information many foods may seem like good choices. That’s why it’s imperative to always read food labels. Upon closer inspection you may find that turkey burger has more fat in it than it’s beef counterpart or that the baked fries are loaded with way too much salt.
Foods for preschool children should include high fiber choices like fresh fruit,whole grain breads,cereals and nutritious snacks. Children should be allowed to eat something every couple of hours. And,remember the vegetables. Children today are growing up eating fewer and fewer veggies,despite the fact that the nutrients in vegetables are vital for combating a number of adult diseases.
Double check what your children are eating during the day. The less processed the food the better. Items high in fats like doughnuts and pastries have no place in preschool ,just like other high sugar and high salt food items. Look for fresh,colorful foods and variety. The children are depending upon you to supply their growing bodies with proper nutrition. It’s worth a little extra effort and thought.
Do you have a preschool food story to share? Good or bad –what has your experience been with the daycare centers that you’ve had contact with? Do you think they measure up or need a lot of improvement? If you operate a daycare facility,what are your tips for others?