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A food loving dietitian’s tips on raising healthy eating kids – by Emma Stirling APD Editor

It’s time for our monthly twitter chat again tonight (Sept 19) called #eatkit and we’re exploring the challenges and solutions to raising healthy eating kids.  We hope you can join us tonight – just follow these details.  Or if you missed out we’ll be posting the #eatkit archive here.

So of course it got me thinking about how I weigh up the science on driving healthy habits in kids, with my own real life experiences being Mum to Master 7 and Miss Ten.  Since I first started my career as a paediatric dietitian in London at Great Ormond Street I’ve been fascinated with how feeding kids is not as easy as it appears, especially if there are associated medical or developmental problems. Now before you click away, don’t for a minute think that it’s all brown rice and broccoli at our house. In fact, I think my kids have had far more than the average treat and fast foods as I try valiantly not to be the family food cop.  But I do seem to be winning in some areas and have some advice that may help in your happy home:

Teach kids where our food comes from

Ask kids of today where milk comes from and you get some pretty interesting answers.  A carton.  A supermarket.  A big tanker.  And even those who correctly say ‘cow’ (or rice or soy or almond), can’t always explain how …they just know to say ‘cow’.  So what’s the simplest answer to this modern day dilemma?  SHOW them.   A great place to ease your kids into regional foodie road trips is with a farm stay or visit to a berry farm.  Come with my family on a virtual tour in our archive post visit to Penny Royal Raspberry Farm.

Source: via Dianne on Pinterest


Get kids in the kitchen

My kids have grown up perched on my lap at the computer (while I wrote or blogged) and also sitting on the bench in the kitchen (while I cooked or baked).  So it’s no surprise that Master 7 is a computer geek and Miss Ten is a keen cook.  I’m particularly passionate about teaching cooking as a life skill for good health.  If you’re looking for inspiration on tools and cookbooks check out Miss 8’s (at the time) archived posts on “Kitchen Ussentials for kids” and “Must have cookbooks for kids” like the Silver Spoon for Children below.

Have a set system for snacks and treats or sometimes foods

If you be a good girl at the grocery store, you can get a treat.  You didn’t eat all your veggies, so you can’t have ice-cream.  Oh my poor darling, let me get a band-aid for your grazed knee and a little candy to cheer you up.  Sound familiar?  If you have childhood memories of food treats being connected with rewards or punishment or comforts, then chances are you will copy these behaviors with your own children.  But the problem with this is, it simply teaches children that treat foods are the most desirable and this can set up future patterns of emotional eating.  Read my archive guest post on the subject and the system for a treat box and self moderation that has worked for us.

Persist with the peas and broccoli, please

Were you forced to eat your broccoli before getting dessert as a child? Are there veggies your dad didn’t eat and now as an adult you bypass them too? With international nutrition surveys showing that kids are not meeting daily vegetable targets, many even failing to eat one serve a day, it’s time to plant some fresh ideas.  Read my archive post for GI News on Raising a vegetable lover.

To celebrate all the wonderful parents and carers that are lovely Scoop readers our latest cookbook giveaway is Party – the Ultimate Kids’ Birthday Party Book.  It’s full of fab themes, step by step craft instructions and of course healthy and treat foods for party time.  Drop us a comment below to go in the draw and the most creative answer or the strongest “pick me” will be chosen.  Entries open to Australian residents and competition closes 5pm AEST Wednesday 26 September.

  • melanie w

    My little miss is turning 6 and a party is on the cards
    having this book would make planning alot less hard.

  • Michelle

    Oh my goodness- even as a fellow dietitian I learn an awful lot from your posts Emma – Love the idea of the portion controlled treat box – this is something I really need to work on with my kids and myself. Hopefully at 7,9 and 11 it’s not too late to begin
    – with school holidays commencing today I think this might just be the time for a fresh start. Thanks for a great blog.

  • Michelle

    Oh and I should have said – the birthday party dilemma is always a tricky one – would love to check out this book. cheers!

  • Kim

    I have a friend – a single mum, on a limited budget with a special needs child. She amazes me how well she can stretch a dollar to make creative healthy meals for her lil family of two. I would love to gift this book to her.


  • Chantelle

    I love the idea of this book! I always get stuck looking for Fun and healthy options, we just end up with sausage sizzles watermelon and lollies, I would love to get more idea’s!!

  • Jodie Johnston

    With 3 kids all wanting birthday parties,I am all out of ideas. I would love this book, especially for the fun and healthy ideas, for just once it would be nice to send children home that are not bouncing off the walls. SO PLEASE PICK ME!!!

  • Congratulations to Kim the lucky winner of our giveaway to pass on to her friend. And huge thanks to everyone for entering. We have more books on the horizon soon.

  • Kim

    Oh thank you so much!

    I will contact you shortly with my friends postal address and get you to post book directly to her if that is ok?

    Thank you kindly


  • Janny

    Your instructions for preserved lemons do not tell me how long to leave the lemons salted before bottling and covering with lemon juice.

  • No need to wait Janny, just pop them straight in!

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