Whilst working as a childcare practitioner it is essential that you as a practitioner are aware of how to maintain a healthy and balanced diet due to the amount of food that you will be preparing and serving to children. Even more essential is that you are aware of how important a healthy and balanced diet is too growing children. The food that children eat is especially important as it helps them to grow and gives them energy so that they can develop. Some scientists have also found that the food we eat in our childhood may affect our health in later life. A healthy diet in childhood is one indicator of high life expectancy. For our bodies to function and develop properly it needs nutrients. The body needs the five types of nutrients these are:- * Carbohydrates
* Mineral elements
To achieve all the nutrients we need the body has to take in a range of foods, this is what is meant by a balanced diet by including a variety of different foods and drinks (water is another important part of a balanced diet but it is not classed as a nutrient). There, some foods even contain a variety of nutrients. There are two main functions that nutrients contribute to providing us with which are; providing the body with material for growth and repair and to provide the body with energy. Nutrition guidelines recommended for adults are inappropriate for most children under the age of five. This is because young children only have small tummies and so need plenty of calories and nutrients in a small amount of food to ensure they grow properly. While low-fat diets are recommended for older children and adults, under-fives need diets that contain good amounts of fat. This fat should come from foods that contain plenty of other nutrients like meat, oily fish and full-fat milk (semi-skimmed milk is unsuitable for children under the age of two, and skimmed unsuitable for under-fives), rather than from high-fat foods that contain few vitamins and minerals like cakes, biscuits and chocolate. Meanwhile, young children shouldn’t eat too many fibre-rich foods, either, as these may fill them up so much they can’t eat enough to provide them with adequate calories and nutrients. However, as children approach school age, they should gradually move towards a diet that’s lower in fat and higher in fibre. And by the age of five, their diet should be low in fat, sugar and salt and high in fibre with five fruit and veg a day – just like adults. Fortunately, whatever their age, children can easily get a balanced diet – and lower their risk of becoming overweight or obese – by eating a variety of foods from four main food groups: * Bread, other cereals and potatoes – these starchy foods, which also include pasta and rice, provide energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals
* Fruit and vegetables – these provide fibre, vitamins and minerals and are a source of antioxidants.
* Milk and dairy foods – these provide calcium for healthy bones and teeth, protein for growth, plus vitamins and minerals.
* Meat, fish and alternatives – these foods, which include eggs and pulses, provide protein and vitamins and minerals, especially iron. Pulses also contain fibre.
In contrast, foods from a fifth food group that includes fatty and sugary foods like biscuits, cakes, fizzy drinks, chocolate, sweets, crisps and pastries, that add little nutritional value, should be limited. E2
Without eating vegetables, along with the proper amounts of protein, dairy, carbohydrates and good fats, children my face a number of problems, including stunted growth, poor academic performance, susceptibility to disease and disrupted sleep patterns. A poor diet can have more serious long term effect possibly leading to a poor academic ability due to decreased amount of concentration when attending schools and may even completely miss school causing them to fall behind. It could course the child to develop behavioural problems...