Diet · Health promotion · Healthy Eating · Nursery · Parenting · Weaning

Looking for a nursery – what to ask in terms of food

Looking for a nursery can be a daunting process. It is important you feel comfortable leaving your child there and yet you can only go on other people’s recommendations. Not only should we check Ofsted reports and find out other parents opinions but we also need to ask the right questions when we go to visit. I would suggest you right them down too, if you are anything like me, you won’t remember all of them when you get there.

I have heard people say that they want to start weaning before they go back to work. My answer to this is that if you are not happy for your childcare provider to feed your child and teach them about food then you shouldn’t be using that provider.

Unlike schools nurseries and childminders are not required by law to keep to strict nutritional standards. There are voluntary guidelines developed by the Children’s Food Trust but they are not mandatory.

So here are 10 questions I think you should ask:

  1. Are they signed up to the voluntary guidelines?
  2. What is on the menu? – if your child is eating all their food at nursery, they need to have 5 portions of fruit and veg included each day, a portion of oily fish a week, some wholegrain foods, 2-3 portions of dairy and some red meat. There shouldn’t be too much processed food, high sugar foods or high salt foods.
  3. What do they give the children to drink? Children don’t need juice or squash. Ask the nursery whether they offer these or whether they stick to water – children will want what their peers are having. A portion of milk a day is a great way to get some calcium but toddlers don’t need milk all the time. (the age of the child will determine how much water and how much milk they should have)
  4. How much water to they encourage the children to drink? Did you know that a 1 year old needs about 1 litre of fluid a day? Good hydration is good for concentration and crucial for good dental health too.
  5. Do the staff eat with the children? Role model are SO important. Do the staff model eating fish and fruit and veg.
  6. Are children expected to finish what is on their plates? What happens if they don’t? The current recommendation is to let children say when they have had enough so they can learn to regulate appetite.
  7. What is offered if the child doesn’t like the food? Children should not be offered a high fat/high salt/high sugar alternative. They can be given choice but within the same food group. Otherwise children hear, you need to eat this nasty thing to have this yummy thing. Ideally you want a nursery which will reward children (with a sticker not a food reward) for trying the food.
  8. Is food given as a reward for good behaviour? This is not recommended and nurseries should try to use other things as rewards, otherwise food is used to treat – a cycle which can continue into adulthood.
  9. What are children allowed to take in on their birthday to share with their class? If there are 40 children in a nursery and every birthday comes with sweets and cake, that is a lot of additional sugar. Fruit or a special story to share with the group are a great alternative.
  10. How much physical activity is encouraged during the day? Children need to be active. They can be active in play as well as sport. Do they have plenty of space to run around, dance, kick a ball?

 

This is not an exhaustive list. I’d love to hear if you have any other suggested questions.

 

 

Health promotion · Healthy Eating · Salt

Should we go nuts this Christmas?

A systematic review of the evidence found in 20 studies (29 publications) by researchers at Imperial College London published today in BioMed Central revealed statistically significant reductions in risk of diseases such as cancer, stroke, coronary heart disease and diabetes in people who ate more than 20g a day of nuts.

Whilst there could be a number of factors associated with this reduction in risk, it puts nuts in a positive light. So, don’t assume that nuts are magic pills when your diet is otherwise very unbalanced diet and you do very little physical activity.

If you are going to be eating more nuts this Christmas though, make sure they are not salted ones or you could increase your risk of hypertension in the process! Nuts covered in chocolate fall into the sweets category so also not a recommended regular snack.

For the full study, click here

CASH · Chef · Health promotion · Healthy Eating · Salt

Too much salt

Have you ever gone out for a meal or had a takeaway and then not been able to get a good night’s sleep because you keep waking up thirsty? As we try and cut down on the amount of salt we are putting in our food at home, many restaurants are still keeping the salt in their food.

This week is Salt Awareness Week. CASH have just published new research which found:

Five of the top saltiest main meals [portion size stated where known]:

1. JD Wetherspoons’ [10oz gammon with eggs, chips, peas, tomato & flat mushroom] = 8.9g salt per portion
2. Jamie’s Italian [game meatball] = 8.1g salt per 570g portion
3. Carluccio’s [spaghetti alle vongole in bianco] = 8.0g
4. Gordon Ramsay’s The Savoy Grill’s [steamed mussels cider cream sauce and fries] = 7.3g salt per 510g portion
5. Wagamama’s Yaki Udon = 7.0g salt per 620g portion

Check out this page for more details of the report

 

Is this really what we want to be doing to our bodies when we go out for food. Some of those dishes probably cost a fair amount too. Perhaps we, the consumer, should start to put pressure on our top chefs and big chains to change from the old fashioned we use sea salt rather than table/rock salt message to using their skills and knowledge of herbs and spices and other ingredients to improve flavour. I have been up for the challenge of reducing salt without cutting flavour, are they?