We ask parents to provide a piece of fruit or vegetable as snack, and we provide either water or milk whilst taking account of individual ethical or medical requirements. We do a ‘rolling snack’ which means that four children at a time sit at our snack table with an adult and enjoy preparing their food by using real knives and wooden chopping boards to cut up their choice of fruit. We encourage them to talk and learn about healthy eating, food hygiene, and safety when using tools and knives. At Little Owls we make snacks and meals a social time at which children and adults eat together, which also encourages learning from peers and adults.
We request that each child brings their own water bottle (with their name on) and we encourage them to drink their water on a regular basis. Water is always accessible to the children.
Little Owls is a nut free zone so we request that no child brings any foods containing nuts.
Children are encouraged to join in with cooking activities and discuss healthy eating and food hygiene. Each week we make bread, doing this on different days throughout the term so that all children have an opportunity to join in if they wish. They are also offered the opportunity to help grow fruit and vegetables in our garden which we then use in our cooking, such as potatoes in our Harvest soup.
If you child is staying for lunch, they will need to bring a packed lunch, stored in a named lunch box or bag, with ice pack if necessary. Public Health England estimates that a quarter of children between the ages of 2-10 years old are overweight or obese. We hope that our children at Little Owls are able to fulfil their potential physically and cognitively, and so we encourage the children to eat healthily. This does not mean we believe children should not eat sweet foods; it is important for children to understand what are everyday foods and what are now and again foods. We feel we should leave giving sweet treats to you as often parents need this! We have a statutory responsibility to promote healthy eating at Little Owls so we ask that you send a healthy packed lunch. We would really appreciate you not including any items that are too high in salt or sugar e.g. chocolate or crisps. A ‘main’ part to the lunch (such as a sandwich, a pasta salad or pitta and homous) and a piece of fruit is a good amount of food for our Little Owls. During lunch, adults and children eat together and we use this time to talk a lot about healthy eating, different types of food, and why they are important. It also means children are having healthy eating modelled by adults and their peers. We celebrate when children try new foods and emphasise how our tastes are always changing so it is important to keep trying foods. We use the phrase ‘I’m not sure yet’ rather than ‘’I don’t like it’ to support this.
At Little Owls we try to be kind to the environment to we would really appreciate it if you could put food in containers that are re-usable, avoiding single-use plastic, such as cling film. Containers also help the children be more independent which is such an important skill to develop their self-esteem.
For more information, advice and support please speak to one of us at Little Owls. Also www.nhs.uk/healthier-families is a useful website.
We are often asked for advice on ‘fussy eating’ so below is some information we have compiled.
-Children are naturally fussy eaters! This is how they have survived evolution as if they weren’t, they would have eaten everything and eventually eaten something poisonous. So try as much as possible to eat the same meal together around a table so that children can see you eating as this is how they learn to trust the food and give it a try. You are your child’s greatest source of learning; what they see will be mirrored back to you!
-Offer choices by putting food in the middle of the table and encourage your child to serve themselves or ask what they would like as this puts them in control and develops independence. If there is something they do not want any of tell them you are going to put one on their plate (or in a small separate bowl/plate if they are really not keen) just in case they would like to try it…but don’t force them!
-Talk lots about how there were foods you weren’t sure about when you were young and how our tastes are always changing, just like how we learn to get dressed, riding a bike, singing songs, etc (pick an example relevant to your child!) we also learn to like different foods. That’s why it’s important to keep trying them, to see if our tastes have changed. Using the word ‘yet’ helps; ‘You are not sure about broccoli yet.’
-Talk about what foods do to help our bodies, such as potatoes fill us up and give us energy to play! Try to avoid talking about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods; it’s more every day foods and now and again foods. No foods (within reason!) should be not allowed, it is more about frequency and portion.
-Avoid the urge to insist your child clears their plate as it stops children’s natural understanding of when they are full and can lead to overeating. Also resist saying your child needs to eat specific food or have a certain amount as it creates bad associations. Imagine you were being forced to eat a food that, to you, looked and smelled awful and you had never seen before!
-Try to not offer dessert as a reward. It just creates a bad association with healthy food. It’s better to just avoid desserts; they don’t need them or offer fruit. If your child doesn’t have much to eat, a banana is always a good one to fill up. Children are more resilient than we give them credit for; having a smaller meal now and again is fine. Just don’t then cook them another meal or they will never learn to broaden their tastes because they don’t have to!
-Stick to set meal/snack times or children may fill up on the wrong foods.
-Let your child be as involved as possible in the planning, shopping for and preparing of meals.