I recently attended a BANES Early Years training course titled HENRY, which stands for Health, Exercise and Nutrition for the Really Young. I was interested in finding out about the right kinds of foods and amounts of foods that we should be feeding our children at Free Rangers. I found the training really interesting and insightful and learnt more than I had expected to, in particularly the information relating to adults as well.
Here is a summary of some notes that I made during the training.
HENRY is a national charity with a holistic approach to ensuring that babies and toddlers have a healthy start to life.
The HENRY approach was founded in 2006 by Professor Mary Rudolf (an expert in childhood obesity) and Candida Hunt (a training consultant and specialist in parenting and behaviour change). The Department of Health assigned Professor Mary Rudolf to review international evidence and produce recommendations for challenging the increase of childhood obesity. The recommendations are the foundations of the HENRY approach. Professor Rudolf’s report, Tackling Obesity through the Healthy Child Programme : A Framework for Action, is available on the Public Health England’s National Obesity Observatory website (www.noo.org.uk)opt
The HENRY approach encourages an active lifestyle, to which there are many benefits, for example, exercise makes you feel good, it prevents heart disease, burns extra calories and can make you more social and meet new people.
The recommendations for activity levels are : for under 5 year olds – 3 hours of active play each day. For over 5 year olds – at least 60 minutes of moderate to active movement (heart rate up but can still talk), plus muscle and bone growth activity e.g. swimming, martial arts, yoga. Also, for adults a minimum of 30 minutes activity 5 times per week, plus muscle strengthening 2 times per week. Everyone needs to minimise their time spent sedentary. Including babies not being strapped in bouncers etc. Babies need to be challenged to move not restrained.
‘Screen time’ – The recommendation is for a maximum of 2 hours per day. For under 2’s it is none at all! However, the current average is 4 hours!! When watching television, children are not moving, they’re not being creative, not learning to entertain themselves, not being sociable, slowing their metabolic rate, and it can have a negative impact upon their brain and language development.
Interesting fact - Our metabolic rate drops when we eat whilst watching television (to below the rate when we are sleeping!!!)
When it comes to a healthy eating routine, follow the child’s lead, don’t pressure children in to eating foods that they really don’t like, and make the eating environment a calm and social place.
Adults can ‘over-ride’ a child’s ‘full gauge / fullness cue’ by forcing them to eat, this leads them to ignore the full feeling and long term they will end up eating more than they need to.
Don’t be worried if children don’t finish meals. Give them small amounts as big portions can be daunting. Praise them then offer another smaller amount.
Eating experience effect our food preferences in the womb. Mothers need to eat a varied diet to pass on to their babies. Babies are born with a desire for sweet (milk) and familiar foods that the mother has eaten.
As a nation, we are all eating more than we need to. Also, our vision of who/what is healthy is wrong.
The Eat well plate is a resource used by HENRY, to encourage a balanced diet.
The purple section has now been removed on updated documents, as high fat and sugar should be minimal and it doesn’t fit within the 4 natural food groups. We know that children still eat this, it needs to be managed not totally removed. An example of a balanced meal could be Spaghetti bolognaise. It has carbohydrates – pasta, Meat – mince, Vegetables – tomatoes, carrots, onion, Dairy – cheese. Homemade foods can guarantee a balanced meal.
Raisins and dried fruit (half cupped hand is portion size) should not be a snack, they should only be given as part of a meal, e.g. in porridge or yogurt. They are really high in sugar and they stick to your teeth.
Tooth decay is common but preventable. Young children should stick to water and milk only (dilute real fruit juices to 50-50). In 2013, 27% children aged 5 had tooth decay. In 2015, Bristol dental hospital removed teeth from over 30,000 of children due to tooth decay.
Some settings in BANES are trialling teeth cleaning at nursery. The minimum is 2 cleans per day for teeth cleaning. Dry brushing (no water) is encouraged, for 2 minutes, don’t rinse just spit out the excess. Mouthwash washes the fluoride away so is not beneficial. Apparently, Tesco value toothpaste has the best fluoride! In Scotland, all schools and nurseries do teeth brushing, tooth decay has therefore dropped significantly.
The guidance for portion sizes says that we should be following a 3 + 2 rule, which means 3 meals + 2 snacks per day.
Our un-stretched stomachs are the size of our clenched fist. One portion of each type of food can be measured using the size of our hands. A cupped hand is the amount of fruit & veg. A fist is the Carbohydrate. The palm of our hand is Protein, 2 of our fingers is the Milk and dairy and 1 thumb is the amount of sugar and fat (processed).
We don’t need as much food as many of us think we need.
Throughout the day adults should have 5+ portions of Fruit & Veg, the same for under 5’s. Adults should have 6 portions of the Bread/Pasta (carbohydrate), 4 portions for under 5’s. Adults should have 2-3 portions of Meat, 2-3 portions for under 5’s. Adults should have 2-3 portions of Milk & Dairy, 3 portions for under 5’s (they need more for calcium for growth – give full fat milk for under 2’s). And finally, adults should have 0-2 portions of sugar & fat, the same for under 5’s.
If you have an unbalanced day you can tweek the next day.
As a nation we are over eating on sugar and fat, and over feeding children. Sugar is in everything! – yogurt, baked beans, ketchup.
We need to reduce anxiety about children who we think are not eating enough, as they probably are, our perceptions are wrong.
The advice is to ‘eat a rainbow’ – there are different vitamins and minerals in different coloured fruits and vegetables. (But meat is meat and a carb is a carb, so 2 eggs are ok for a portion but don’t eat 2 bananas)
It takes 20 minutes for your brain to realise that your stomach is full – often slow eaters don’t eat so much but they know they’re full, those who eat quickly will over-eat.
Hunger may actually be thirst, so if a child says they are hungry give them a drink of water. Be aware of growth spurts in children, as children will need more food if they are growing. Also, some days we feel hungrier than others, that’s ok, just keep an eye out for the long term. Having seconds of fruit and vegetables at lunch is brilliant, but be mindful of those children wanting more carbs. Give children a tiny spoonful to feel that they have had more.
Stomachs stretch when we eat – if we over-eat then out stomachs stretch more and the next time we eat we will need more food to fill it.
If the food intake doesn’t match the energy usage then becoming an unhealthy weight is an issue. We need to balance energy in with energy out. Eat more –do more, eat less – do less. (Use the idea of a rocket going to the moon, food/ fuel gives the rocket energy, but too much food /fuel and the rocket will explode!!)
Remember adults are role models to children, we need to be encouraging and modelling good habits and healthy choices for food and activity.
More information about HENRY is available at www.henry.org.uk