Good nutrition and strong physical activity habits are essential for us all! For Kim Bjorklund, owner of Safe Haven Child Care Center, these became a life-changing journey. After examining her program’s monthly menu with a local dietitian, Kim identified areas that needed to change.
It started when she noticed herself and the children in her care could benefit from better nutrition and healthy eating habits. “A parent told me her little guy could eat Alfredo sauce and noodles all day long. Her little guy was not little, at nine months, he was almost wearing a size 3T. I had 50 pounds to lose too.”
Kim, who has been a WECA Food Program provider since 2002, set out to be a good example for the children in her care by talking the talk. The result, more than 40 pounds lost to date. “With only a few slight changes to my diet and walking every day, I lost weight! I could not have done this without the guidance from Sarah and her Child Physical Activity and Nutrition class.”
- Eliminate fruit juice. Juice is loaded with sugar, and filled with empty calories. Instead, kids enjoy fruit-infused water or milk.
- Switch to whole-wheat pasta and brown rice. Both contain more fiber, protein, and other healthy nutrients.
- Eliminate sweets after meals and for snacks. If you must, focus on a smaller serving size or serve fruit.
- Make outside play is a high-priority. “I make an effort to get outside more often to play games that promote large motor skills.”
- Plant a garden at your center. “We had pumpkins, beans, peas, onion, squash, radish, celery, tomatoes and one huge sunflower this year! The fresh produce ready to eat and learning experience for the children is a win-win for everyone.” Studies show that kids who are involved in planting, working in and harvesting a garden tend to eat the food they helped grow!
“My number one piece of advice is to be a good role model,” Kim shared. “Take care of yourself too. We are isolated with children all day, so it is easy for our weight to get out of hand. Little changes make a difference.”
Need more tips that can help transform your childcare programs into a healthy and vibrant one? Our Healthy Bites Overview webinar provides an overview on developing a strong nutrition policy, the updated CACFP meal pattern requirements and information about YoungStar nutrition requirements. Watch it today!