Welcome to the second ever Fork Talk interview! Each month we chat with feeding experts, health professionals and Mums about how they choose to feed their families.
Today's guest is the fabulous Kathleen, from Health Start Nutrition. Kathleen is a paediatric dietitian in Melbourne, Victoria. Her private practice is called Healthy Start Nutrition and she works with mainly with pregnant women, children and families.
You might have read Kathleen's fabulous article about what a paediatric dietitian actually feeds her kids. It went viral on Kidspot, HuffPost and Babyology amongst other sites. You can also read it here. Kathleen has two busy and active boys of her own Zachary who is four and Hamish who is almost 18 months now.
Here she answers our Fork Talk questions and shares her approach to feeding her family.
Meal plan or wing it? Oh I am an OCD meal planner. Us dietitians are often over organised and if I don’t have meals planned the wheels fall off a bit. I generally plan a week of meals on the weekend then shop to that plan. It usually includes 1-2 ‘easy meals’ then I can shuffle days around if I need.
Low-fat or full fat dairy? We have low fat milk for the adults in our house, full cream for the boys and just full fat cheese and yoghurt mostly.
Peanut butter in the fridge or pantry? In the pantry!
What sort of bread does your family eat most often? Generally multigrain, however I mix it up a lot depending on what I feel like when shopping – white, wholemeal, pane di casa, sourdough, wholegrain – my boys are happy to eat any bread.
Which drinks are regularly available in your house? We have water and milk available all the time. Occasionally the boys will have a flavoured milk with a snack or if we are out. I don’t drink tea or coffee but am known to be partial to having a diet coke in the afternoon.
How old were your children when they first started solids? Both boys started solids at around 6 months of age.
And what were the first 3 foods you introduced them to? I honestly can’t remember – I would say infant rice cereal, mixed with apple, pear or sweet potato they also had pureed chicken with sweet potato early on.
What is an important thing for you to teach your children about food? That all foods can be enjoyed! I really avoid talking about nutrition with my boys at all - they are just offered the foods that we have as a family and can decide how much they will eat at that meal.
Where do you sit for meals or snacks? We always sit at our kitchen table for meals. Sometimes for snacks I will sit with the boys at their kids table in the lounge room or we will eat outside together. They also attend childcare where they all sit around the table with their friends and serve from the middle of the table just like at home.
What time do your boys eat dinner? We eat together as a family and it can be anywhere between 5.30-6.30pm at the very latest. On the days when I get home late (could be walking in the door at 5.45pm) I make sure we either have leftovers for a quick reheat, something already half prepared – e.g. cut up vegetables ready to throw a quick stir fry together or we just have toasted sandwiches or baked beans on toast. I think it is more important to eat together than exactly what the meal is.
What’s your children’s favourite meal (at the moment!)? Zac’s focus is really on bread and meat at the moment…..pretty standard 4 year old. He has really taken a liking to corn recently so that’s been on the menu more – either microwaved or cooked on the BBQ. Hamish is still at the point where he eats EVERYTHING I offer him which is so easy.
What’s your go-to meal on a busy night? ‘Chicken wraps’ Zac loves these and they are so easy to make, just tortillas, a platter of salad items cut up, cheese and chicken. We usually cook the chicken up with a tin of chickpeas too so we use less chicken overall and include some legumes in the meal – both boys love the chickpeas so it’s a great way to get vegetables into their meal.
What’s your favourite food related book? “Your body is awesome” is a fantastic book that I read with Zac but also recommend to lots of families around trusting children to listen to their bodies telling them if they are hungry or full as well as being accepting of different body shapes and sizes.
What do you try NOT to do when feeding your child? Use any pressure – whether it’s negative or positive. Sometimes it’s so hard to resist some encouragement of my four-year old’s eating. “why don’t you just try a little bit of this” “You need to eat some of your broccoli before you can have more pasta” I remind myself (and my husband) that long term offering family meals and not using any pressure will pay off!
What would you do if your boys refused to eat their dinner? I always ensure that there is one food in the meal that my boys will eat – e.g. that could be some bread on a plate. It’s very rare that my 4 year old would refuse any dinner. It’s not uncommon though for him to only eat his preferred food. If either boy doesn’t eat much that’s just them telling us they aren’t that hungry right now, which is fine.
One piece of good advice about feeding kids? I think the biggest thing is not worrying so much exactly WHAT you are feeding your kids but HOW you are doing it. Eating together is so important to me and I would rather us eat baked beans or McDonalds together after a busy day than feed my kids something and have dinner with by husband later in the evening - or spend lot’s or time in the kitchen making something that the kids refuse and I just feel stressed and grumpy about.
You can check out Kathleen on Facebook here and Instagram here and her website here. Her practice is based in Melbourne and you can read about her services on her website!
About Mealtime Building Blocks (the Fork Talk host!)
Dr Kyla Smith is a paediatric dietitian specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. She has a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla on her website and sign up for her newsletter, and her Facebook page or on her Instagram page.
You can also email her.