From Little people nutrition
Can you tell us a little about your background before your children…
I was a girl just kicking back working and hanging with my husband, family and friends! I worked professionally as food scientist, specifically in product development, so creating food products for an international food company. I loved to eat out a few times a week with friends and have a few too many glasses of wine. Loved having a boogie on the weekends and lying in bed all Sunday reading the newspaper. Loved travelling around the world visiting different cultures. Spain, Portugal, Japan, UK, Ireland, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, France, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand. Oh goodness, how times have changed!!
Can you explain what “little people nutrition” is all about and why you started it?
Little People Nutrition is about providing honest, practical food and nutritional information and tools for parents and carers for young children as well as the whole family. I also use it as a way to connect with groups of people, families, parents, children and community groups to run workshops on nutritional topics of interest, cooking workshops for families and children and also my writing and consulting work that I do for businesses around nutrition and food science.
I aligned my focus on area of childhood and family health and nutrition when my husband’s work took us away from Sydney. With a young babe on my hip in regional Australia (with the intention of moving regularly for the next 10 years) I commenced my postgraduate studies in Human Nutrition at Deakin. Having learned a lot about what drives consumers to eat what they do with my previous work I wanted to share with families how to make more informed decisions at a very basic level. To build the confidence of the family in their own choices and help them sift through the fads and misinformation out there.
What do you find the biggest issues families have with feeding children?
Truly believing in their own ability as parents and carers in guiding their children to make better choices. As well as persisting. Persisting is key with healthy eating for everybody. Slowly chipping away at healthy delicious whole foods until the family loves them and craves them (especially with fussy eaters).
The other issue is families interpreting what is in processed foods.
Just recently we had a situation with my daughter presenting with an immediate reaction to what she ate. I could not decipher from the label what it could be as the ingredients in isolation have all been consumed before. The problem with labelling laws in Australia is the variance in what food companies can name an ingredient. If I can’t decipher some labels, how can someone else, without my background.
What are 3 things you find help in feeding children healthy and nutritious meals that they will actually eat?
- Don’t be afraid to try new things with the family. You might not have liked avocado or tempeh as a child, but you child might! And just because they didn’t like it last week, in a few week’s time they very well may!
- Market the foods to them in ‘kid language’. Healthy means absolutely nothing to children. They couldn’t care less. But food that helps me run faster than my sister, makes me paint better, jump higher, win my swimming race, perform better in ballet class, sing louder and clearer, kids want these to be in their reach. They are all only white lies as obviously nutrient dense foods are helpful to the energy levels and overall health of our children.
- Make it fun. Food should be fun. Get them involved with the cooking or decisions in the menu planning and let them serve the food themselves, even if it is with their fingers.
How do you juggle working and a family?
Just trying not to drop too many balls at once. A constant juggle really but just focusing on what I have to do that day to meet a deadline.
I have childcare for a few days for both girls and since moving back to Sydney, my parents look after one of my daughters for half a day.
I also have an incredibly supportive husband who helps me when I need to jet off early to a factory or he will pick the kids up. I am the main carer of the girls during the week but he is always there if I need it and relishes the opportunity. It really is about co-parenting as well. We are both responsible for everything although obviously my forte is not fixing the gate, and nor is his making spinach and ricotta cannelloni.
I also work a bit on weekends and probably three nights a week. But I am lucky as my work, especially the development of recipes and tools that I use with other families, I can trial them on my family first!!!
Do you think parenting is different from when you were raised? How?
Yes and no. My father was very hands on, every night passing that netball back and forward with me. And although my mother was the main carer, she worked at a minimum part time during my whole childhood. Very similar to our current situation.
I think parenting has become a verb rather than just being a parent, which has positives and negatives. I think there is definitely an appreciation of the gift of having children is and that although it can be a complete schmozzle, we are blessed. I know we don’t take it for granted.
Can you describe to our readers your work place and what is involved …
My workplace is incredibly varied. Part of the time I am at my desk writing for myself or for other websites. Sometimes I am in an office discussing products and processed foods with Marketing, Supply Chain and Innovation. Sometimes I am out at processing plants, looking at the line of products and checking the quality, sometimes I am in a tasting room trialling multiple samples to decipher whether the product development is on tract, sometimes I am standing in front of a room full of parents talking about nutrition and health, sometimes I am cooking with a group of young teenage mums and sometimes I am cooking meatballs with a group of 3 year olds. So varied and so wonderful. I love it and am so blessed but have worked very hard for a long time to get here.
Have your own self expectations changed since having children? How?
I have realised probably in the last year that yes, I can have it all, but not all at the same time.
I remember when I was pregnant with my first daughter and I thought that on maternity leave for 12 months I would knock out a Masters degree and learn Portuguese fluently and start a catering business of healthier baked items. What the?! Pretty funny in retrospect.
Of course I am still on track with a few of those things but it will occur more likely in the space of 10 years, rather than 12 months!!!
My children are young for only a minute period of time and already my eldest is about to start school next year. I can’t believe it! But it means that if you can, or have the opportunity , or want to, enjoy the time with them as much as possible, even if it is just the weekends as soon, they won’t want a piece of you!!
What is one thing you swore you would never do as a parent …. and now do?
Gosh I don’t know. I don’t think I really knew what being a parent would be like. I do know that I said that I would never visit one of those play places. They still freak me out, all the plastic and people screaming in my face with kids eating fluro red slushies and hot chips but when we lived in the ACT, 2 degree days and a 2 year old, you just need to get out!
Can you walk us through a typical day for you…
Oh goodness, they are all different but one writing day may be:
Wakeup about 6.30-7am with an arm in my face and a leg in my back from my kids who arrive in our bed by 2am.
Breaky altogether, this is so sacred and I love that my husband is slow in the morning and spends breakfast with us.
Get ready and if it is a work day, off to childcare/preschool or my Mum drops by…around 8:30-9am.
Then I am in work mode where if I am writing content I will research it whether it is on-line or at the supermarket or calling someone or even in the kitchen recipe testing.
Before lunch I normally do some exercise if I am working from home and then have lunch. Exercise could be dancing to Beyonce or Xavier Rudd on Youtube, yoga or taking the dog for a walk/run.
Then I get back into work and finish up what I need to do by 4 where I par prep tea, get the girls and get back and aim to cook dinner in the time that Peppa Pig and Charlie and Lola runs for so that we can sit down by 6pm. Any latter and I will have to dish out 13 pieces of green apple and begged for spider nuts (walnuts) and then they will be whiny at tea time!
The girls and I always eat together for dinner by 6ish and if hubby is home, he will join in.
Then there is quiet play for girls where hubby and I catch up, bath, books and bed for the girls (and sometimes me too if I am pooped). Otherwise I am manning the couch with my computer researching, writing or emailing people for either my work or for the blog.
I am normally in bed by 11pm.
What is one resource that has kept you sane and helped you on your journey of motherhood? Eg book, person, website
A few. I love some blogs like The Beetle Shack and The Veggie Mama. I also love Fox in Flats (although I am so not fashionable). I also love Natural New Age Mum for a different spin on things. And my husband, he is so calm and collected on all issues with our family where as I am known to become a little passionate, emotional, frenetic or panicky in situations!!!
Actually since I had my children before a lot of my girlfriends I did really turn to the internet and the on-line world for my dose of courage and reality. It made me feel what I was experiencing as normal.
Hit us with a great recipe that is family friendly and easy to make!
Family friendly nachos - recipe for flower child
And one tip for us all on keeping it real…
Breakfast for dinner is always a winner. Eggs on toast are a completely satisfactory and healthy option for dinner for the family. Way healthier, quicker and cheaper than many fast food options.
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