Recent reviews identify the early years as the most crucial time to intervene against health inequalities. At Tops we are proud to have designed a delicious, nutritionally balanced menu to support children’s growth and development, available in all 29 of our award winning nurseries. Our food contains no added sugars, only those naturally occurring.
Did you know that over a fifth of children in the UK are overweight or obese by the time they join primary school, and more than 1 in 4 children may be at risk of an iron deficiency? These statistics are concerning for the future generation which is why we encourage and promote healthy living in all our nursery settings.
Our sugar-free menus have been designed to ensure our children have a fully balanced diet throughout the day, and most importantly have reduced their sugar intake with the meals and desserts we provide. The menu includes a variety of exciting and original cooked meals and snacks such as mixed bean and vegetable stew, and potato and lentil cakes served with vegetable sticks – We also have one fully vegetarian day per week!
At Tops Cooking School, we also enjoy focusing on healthy, sugar-free meals, teaching our children how to make tasty but balanced food for them to enjoy in the nursery and for them to take home to their family, such as banana bread and homemade pizza.
So, the question is, how much sugar should we be eating?
- Children aged under 4 no more than 12g or 4 teaspoons of free sugars per day.
- Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g or 5 teaspoons of free sugars per day
- Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g or 6 teaspoons of free sugars per day
- Children aged 11 years and upwards, as well as adults, should have no more than 30g or 7 teaspoons of free sugar per day
The key thing to remember is that overall, eating healthily is all about balance. Indulgent foods, such as those high in fat and/or sugar, can be enjoyed, but only occasionally, not every day. The majority of our diet should be made up of balanced, nutritious foods. Here are some helpful tips for you at home;
- Never force children to eat, but encourage them to try all foods
- Replace chocolate bars and cakes with tasty fruit – Why not try a fruit salad!
- Offer nutritional snacks such as fruit, vegetables and hummus, or yoghurt rather than crisps and biscuits
- Drink plenty of water
- Involve children in food preparation
- Do not use food as a reward
It is so important to ensure the meals and snacks your child is consuming provides them with a variety of nutrients, and whilst it may take a while for your little one to adjust to new, healthier alternatives, we think they’ll be loving their lunch in no time, and it will be worth it for their health!
A balanced lunch or dinner meal should consist of;
- Starchy foods – bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and others.
- Protein foods – lean meat, fish, eggs, beans, tofu and others
- A dairy item – cheese or a yoghurt
- Vegetables or salad and a portion of fruit
To discuss our sugar-free menus in more detail, please speak to your nursery manager, who you can find here.
Alternatively, here are some lunch options we recommend for you try at home;
- Cheese sandwich with wholemeal bread
- Boiled egg
- fruit yoghurt (be aware of sugar content)
- Small box of raisins
- Chickpea and sweetcorn wholemeal roll
- Hummus and vegetable sticks.
- Piece of cheese
- Pasta salad
- Breadsticks and vegetable sticks
- natural yoghurt and fruit pieces to dip.
- Oat cake
- Edam cheese, ham and lettuce pitta pocket
- Fruit yoghurt
- Muffin pizza
- Hummus, red pepper and carrot sticks
- Fruit salad
- fruit yoghurt (be aware of sugar content)
Whilst what we eat is incredibly important, we can’t forget physical activity! Physical activity has proven physical and psychological benefits, and at Tops we believe all children should be running around and playing throughout the day, expelling their energy and having fun!
We encourage children to be active in all weathers, getting outside come rain or shine. The children have regular access to the outdoor environments and we also run active sessions such as boogie mites, and yoga, football, and forest school. Not only this, Tops have recently introduced the Daily Mile, a campaign that encourages our pre-school children to run, jog or walk for 15 minutes every day. We’ll be allocating 15 minutes into a selection of our nurseries to allow the children to get involved, get moving, and most importantly have fun on a special route within the nursery. If children have restricted mobility or any special needs, they can take part at their own pace, surrounded and supported by adults and friends.