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BLOG: Early years nutrition

Food consumed in childhood can shape future health and one of the most important roles we have in the world is to feed children. I cannot stress enough that we should never under estimate the importance of feeding a child nor the impact nutrition has. I have developed an area of my nutrition business solely focused on one thing ‘To impact on future health predictions by creating healthy habits in the young’.

I wanted to share to a wide audience of early years professionals the important message of formative nutrition and to show not only how influential they are at this crucial time of development but how easy it can be to implement healthy changes for future health.

Nutrition can be an emotive word, sometimes people switch off when they hear it, other times they feel concerned that they are going to be preached to or feel they are doing something wrong.  This stems from many years of misleading and confusing information in the media about the food we eat, frankly, it’s left us all a little bit jaded and unsure of who or what to trust.

After studying Nutrition for Children’s Brain Development, I decided to write a book; some months later my book; How Food Shapes Your Child was published and I embarked upon my early years’ nutrition mission.

This mission led me to hosting Early Years TV Food Channel. A channel dedicated to bringing you up to date nutritional information in relation to early childhood development. I am dedicated to showing you just how important food is but you may be surprised to see just how influential!

Each month on the food channel we cover a specific subject and show how food impacts on this area. Topics we have coming up are on;

  • The impact of nutrition on children’s mental health
  • The role of nutrition within Autistic populations
  • How food impacts on cognitive function and IQ
  • The real problem of our addiction to sugar

Since we launched in June 2019, we have covered many important subjects including; Childhood Obesity, Future Proofing Health, Trick or Treat (the food and brain connection) along with Foods from around the world and Spices for the young.

The aim is to show that food is not only crucial for our physical health and development but is hugely influential in our mental health and cognitive function too, for each food that has a positive role to play there is also one that will un-do this – we aim to address the balance by education enough on the nutritional and neuroscience to make informed decisions on food choices, and this is possible from a very young age!

There are many reasons why this is important but for me the biggest is that we need to influence the future health predictions that this generation of children face;

  • We are already seeing a significant rise in children’s mental health (yes, there are direct nutritional links here).
  • Childhood obesity generally leads to adult obesity and we have a generational imprint of obesity (we cover epigenetics in our nutritional information).
  • Adult habits are formed in childhood.
  • Children pick up on food language from an early age and adopt this language (i.e. food as a ‘treat’ or ‘reward’).  This can be damaging in terms of emotional eating adults.
  • Children are not exempt from adult diseases we just don’t expect to see it.  Sadly, conditions previously considered to be adult lifestyle issues are now presenting in children, I am aware of Type 2 Diabetes in children as young as 8.

Future health predictions do not need to come true.

Our Early Years TV Food Doctor Paediatrician stated that 80-90% of serious illness and causes of death are directly attributed to lifestyle, whilst this may be terrifying as a statistic it is also incredible empowering as we can influence our lifestyle and that of the next generation.

The future is ours to shape.

Very young children do not have a voice when it comes to food. Their palate development, food habits and food language are shaped by the adults who influence and feed them. Let that influence be a positive one and shape their future health and habits to go against the future that is currently predicted for their health.

The NHS cannot cope with the level of current lifestyle diseases, we know that this is getting worse each year and expect that for this generation they will face a future of obesity, mental health problems and co-morbidities of lifestyle conditions.  The food industry will not change, the initiatives in place are not having a big enough impact.

The key to change is education on the real impact that food has.

About the author

I'm Louise Mercieca, Owner of The Health Kick, Award-winning Nutritional Therapist, Award-winning author and Presenter on my own Food Channel for Early Years Nutrition. I am very passionate about preventative nutrition, so surely the best way to do this is to get it right from the start?! Hence why I have found myself on a bit of an Early Years Nutrition Mission!

Our goal with the Early Years TV Food Channel is to give practitioners and parents a really simple and easy way to prepare healthy, nutritious and exciting food for their children with our monthly meal plans and recipes - and to teach them good eating habits with our nutritional videos, expert interviews and information downloads.

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