Promoting Healthy Eating Among Children

There is no doubt that early childhood is a significant period for every person. The basics for future health and well-being develop during this time, meaning that children should be motivated to adhere to appropriate behaviours, and healthy nutrition is among them. Boyd (2015) explains that an unhealthy diet is a leading cause of child obesity. Simultaneously, Parletta (2017) stipulates that “not only do poor eating patterns affect physical health, they also have an impact on children’s cognitive and emotional development” (p. 385). According to Munday and Wislon (2017), this situation is acute because both children and their parents lack sufficient knowledge to keep a healthy diet. Thus, an essential cohort of scientific evidence demonstrates that this issue directly impacts children’s well-being.

My own experience also shows that unhealthy eating behaviour implies adverse outcomes. On the one hand, one of my primary school classmates suffered from obesity because of eating chocolate, chips and others. On the other hand, I noticed that my education results worsened in the university since I started eating semi-finished products without any fruits and vegetables. Thus, the information above highlights that nutrition is a fundamental phenomenon, meaning that specific measures and strategies are necessary to promote healthy eating among children.

Policies

This section will critically overview the rationale behind choosing the given topic and connection between healthy nutrition and people’s well-being. It is not a surprise that a healthy diet provides an organism with sufficient nutrients, vitamins and minerals. That is why it is also worth considering how the absence of these elements impacts a human body. As has been mentioned above, Parletta (2017) indicates that both physical and mental health can suffer from malnutrition. For example, the researcher admits that unhealthy diet results in the fact that 3-year-old individuals have lower IQ and tend to be more aggressive in adolescence (Parletta, 2017). As for 4-year-old children, “data from South Australia indicated an increase of 7.5 per cent from 1995 to 2002 in overweight and obesity rates” (Boyd, 2014, p. 58). These examples justify the necessity to focus on nutrition and its effects.

It is also necessary to explain in detail how the given topic relates to well-being. To begin with, one should provide a definition of this term. According to Ylitapio-Mäntylä et al. (2012), well-being is not a complicated concept since it refers to happiness. In other words, happy children are said to experience well-being. Simultaneously, Lewis (2019) offers a more comprehensive claim meaning that the concept under analysis refers to a state when a person has sufficient physical and psychological resources to cope with appropriate challenges in their life. These definitions denote that children with obesity and worsened cognitive abilities cannot achieve the state of well-being. In turn, the information above has stipulated that a healthy diet has the potential to protect young individuals from these adverse issues. Consequently, there is no doubt that there exists a strong connection between children’s nutrition and well-being.

The information above makes it clear that the issue of children’s healthy nutrition is central for many policies, and well-being policies concerning early childhood in Australia are among them. The country has the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) that focuses on childhood education and development. The organisation offers the National Quality Standards that should be met to provide children with suitable living and learning conditions. Some of these standards directly address both well-being and a healthy diet. For example, it relates to the concept of Healthy Lifestyle that comes from Quality Area 2 (Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority, 2018). This element stipulates that a healthy diet is an essential requirement that is necessary to achieve children’s well-being. It means that Australia has a specific policy to ensure that the issue of child malnutrition is addressed at a state level.

In addition to that, one should not forget that Australia is a United Nations member state, meaning that the country should abide by the UN regulations. Thus, UNICEF (n.d.) offers a simplified version of the UN convention on the rights of the child. Article 24 stipulates that children have the right to nutritious food (UNICEF, n.d.). It denotes that the policies above demonstrate that Australia takes sufficient measures to address the issues of well-being and nutrition.

Practice and Planning

As has been described, children should follow healthy eating standards to experience well-being to avoid severe issues. That is why it is necessary to explain how one can achieve the goal above. It is evident that parents bear the primary responsibility for their young children’s health and behaviour. However, it is a typical case that modern parents are overloaded with their job duties, do not have sufficient time or do not want to make their children keep healthy diets. In this case, it is reasonable to focus on the school that is another essential institution for every child. Thus, the given section will comment on how educators can promote healthy nutrition among children.

In the beginning, it is impossible to deny the idea that educators play a significant role in children’s development. Firstly, these professionals should provide young individuals with knowledge regarding the advantages of eating fruits and vegetables (Munday & Wilson, 2017). Secondly, educators are responsible for establishing a positive environment that will help children make the right choices regarding their health and nutrition. Thirdly, teachers and other professionals act as an example for children. That is why Ylitapio-Mäntylä et al. (2012) stipulate that if childhood education teachers experience well-being, they contribute to “children’s balanced and healthy growth, development and learning” (p. 459). It will be suitable if educators eat healthy food together with children. These examples demonstrate that educators have multiple ways to promote healthy behaviours among their learners.

Since I am an educator, I understand that promoting healthy diets among children is an essential element of my professional practice. That is why it is necessary to design a specific course of action that would help me create positive learning experiences for children and their parents. In this case, it is essential to provide parents and children with an opportunity to participate in an activity that would highlight the importance of healthy eating habits.

Since the information above has described a complicated task, it is suitable to be creative and focused on completing it. Thus, my planned activity is to make children use bento lunch boxes. The idea relies on the assumption that children fail to keep a healthy diet both because they do not understand the importance of healthy eating and because unhealthy food is more visually attractive. Since it has already been described how to improve children’s knowledge on a nutritious diet, the following information will address the issue of visual attractiveness. This claim refers to the necessity to get children interested in consuming healthy food.

Bento lunch boxes are suitable to address the issue under analysis for a few reasons. On the one hand, they contribute to healthy eating because they provide children with a limited amount of food. It means that young individuals will not overeat, which will minimise their risk of getting obesity. On the other hand, these boxes address the issue of interest and motivation to make young individuals keep a healthy diet. It relates to the fact that my planned activity is to make children and their parents use food cutters to decorate their food. This elementary and resource-light intervention will result in three significant advantages. Firstly, the decoration process will help parents improve a relationship with their children. Secondly, the activity will lead to the fact that children will decorate their food by themselves, which will increase their motivation to consume it. Munday and Wilson (2017) admit that “involving children in food preparation can encourage them to eat vegetables” (p. 2). Finally, the intervention will promote healthy eating behaviour among children.

In addition to that, one should admit that the planned activity to promote nutrition among children requires some support. It is not reasonable to think that it is an individual educators’ task to make children follow a healthy diet. For example, Munday and Wilson (2017) show that a kindergarten needed assistance from the local university to implement a free lunches intervention. As for the proposed activity, the support from Nutrition Australia seems suitable. It is so because the given organisation deals with promoting healthy eating behaviours throughout the whole state. Nutrition Australia understands the significance of a balanced diet for people’s future development. That is why it offers information, consultation and education services to make numerous stakeholders follow healthy behaviour. In particular, this resource is useful because it provides parents and educators with recipes, which allows them to choose healthy ingredients for children lunches.

To summarise, one should emphasise that educators play a significant role in addressing the issue of childhood malnutrition. That is why these professionals should promote healthy behaviours among young individuals through education and specific activities. Bento lunch boxes are appropriate to involve children in eating fruits and vegetables and contribute to a better relationship between children and their parents. Nutrition Australia can provide educators with the required assistance to cope with the task.

Profession

It has already been mentioned that early childhood education (ECE) professionals should cooperate with parents and appropriate organisations to promote healthy nutrition among the selected population. However, it is worth mentioning that working with colleagues is also a suitable strategy. This option contributes to the fact that educators can share their knowledge and experience regarding the importance of a balanced diet, which can lead to the implementation of an effective intervention.

Based on the information above, I decided to collaborate with my peer, who also worked on the topics of nutrition and children’s well-being. My colleague emphasised Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory and how we could apply it to the issues under consideration. According to Fleer (2018), the given theory stipulates that people’s development depends on their environment and other individuals who surround them. This claim has helped me make sure that ECE professionals hold the primary responsibility in influencing children and shaping their development process.

Furthermore, it is reasonable to emphasise the role of my mentor, who helped me get a more in-depth insight into the topic. It relates to the fact that my mentor’s feedback and suggestions allowed me to generate a critical evaluation of the planned activity. As a result, I took sufficient measures to ensure that the proposed intervention would be free from any risk and aim at providing children with the best learning opportunities. Simultaneously, my mentor contributed to the fact that I drew attention to the development framework by the Department of Education and Training (2016). This resource stipulated that children learning and development required partnerships with families and other professionals. That is why I chose the planned activity that would enable these partnerships.

At this point, it is rational to emphasise and explain why it was helpful to introduce the peers’ opinions. Firstly, this strategy is useful because it allows considering the issue from a different point of view. This activity helps identify whether there are any other suitable solutions to the given problem. Secondly, sharing ideas is a productive strategy of action because individuals can have various levels of expertise regarding the same issue. Thus, this activity will allow them to deepen their knowledge in the topic, which will contribute to the creation of a more effective intervention. Finally, the collaboration with peers in addressing the issues is productive because it shows that educators should cooperate with one another when it comes to the ECE setting. This situation teaches that educators are not left alone with their problems; they can contact their colleagues to obtain the required assistance. In conclusion, it is evident that promoting healthy eating habits and improving children’s well-being is a challenging assignment, and it is necessary to use all the existing resources to cope with the task successfully.

References

Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority. (2018). National quality standard. Web.

Boyd, W. (2015). The tensions between food choices and sustainable practices in early childhood centres. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 40(4), 58-65.

Department of Education and Training. (2016). Victorian early years learning and development framework: For all children from birth to eight years. Web.

Fleer, M. (2018). Child development in educational settings. Cambridge University Press.

Lewis, A. (2019). Examining the concept of well-being and early childhood: Adopting multi-disciplinary perspectives. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 17(4), 294-308. Web.

Munday, K., & Wilson, M. (2017). Implementing a health and wellbeing programme for children in early childhood: A preliminary study. Nutrients, 9(1031), 1-11. Web.

Parletta, N. (2017). Food for thought: The role of teachers and parents in children’s food choices. In S. Garvis & D. Pendergast (Eds.), Health and wellbeing in childhood (2nd ed.) (pp. 379-415). Cambridge University Press.

UNICEF. (n.d.). A simplified version of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child. Web.

Ylitapio-Mäntylä, O., Uusiautti, S., & Määttä, K. (2012). Critical viewpoint to early childhood education teacher’s well-being at work. International Journal of Human Sciences, 9(1), 459-483. Web.

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