We spoke to one of our Registered Nutriton Professionals, Rachel Marklew, who supports settings in West Sussex. She told us all about why early years nutrition is important to her, and we found out about some of her favourite things!
Why did you become a nutritionist and what was your inspiration?
I started learning more about food and nutrition when I went to university to study Animal Science, mainly through core modules in the undergraduate degree covering metabolism and digestion. Following that, I decided to study a Masters in Nutrition and I was given an opportunity through that to work at the Department of Health on various nutrition policy areas and with the UK’s expert advisory committee on nutrition. I was inspired there to follow the public health nutrition route and have been passionate about communicating evidence-based nutrition advice ever since.
Why is good early years nutrition so important?
Obesity is one of the biggest health problems in England and about one in four children are overweight or obese before they start school. We know that being exposed to a variety of foods at an early age can increase a child’s acceptance of new foods, helping to establish a more diverse diet and develop healthier eating habits, which is important for longer-term health.
Why do you enjoy working with the EYN Partnership?
One of the most challenging things about being a nutritionist is all the myths out there about food and nutrition! I love having the opportunity to work closely with settings to educate them about nutrition and healthy eating with evidence-based advice, and debunk some of those nutrition myths! I also love that the EYN Partnership has a whole setting approach and opportunities to engage with the practitioners directly, particularly through the training workshops, which means they can be more confident talking to the children and parents about nutrition.
How can you support settings to improve their nutrition practice?
The time that many children spend in early years settings provides an ideal opportunity to help shape healthy behaviours. Using my experience of working in the public health field and knowledge of early years nutrition, I’m excited about supporting settings in identifying and making changes to the food they provide, as well as how they educate the children through their whole setting approach to nutrition.
What's your favourite healthy meal to cook for little ones?
A healthy version of the Chinese take away favourite, sweet and sour chicken with rice.
What's your favourite vegetable?