I don’t think there could be a better job for me than being a dietitian – I can combine my love of food with the passion for science I first remember feeling when I was given a book called ‘A Drop of Blood’ at about the age of six. In the years since I qualified I’ve worked in a wide range of areas, from NHS hospital wards to my own private practice. During this time I’ve developed a special interest in pregnancy and children's nutrition.
I feel very fortunate to be working with the Early Years Nutrition Partnership. Any one of us who looks after young children can see how important good nutrition is to their busy little bodies and minds. I’ve seen with my own three children the impact of healthy meals on their energy levels for to playing and learning. I also appreciate that developing healthy habits early in life will benefit my boys’ wellbeing far into the future.
Having struggled with my own fussy child, I’m the first to admit that feeding children well can be tricky. The first step is understanding what children’s growing bodies need and don’t need – a quick glance at the confusing newspaper headlines and Facebook stories shows us how many mixed nutrition messages are out there. It's tricky enough to feed our children and ourselves without having to separate fact from fiction! Add this to childhood issues such as fussiness and allergies and it can get very challenging, whether you’re a dietitian or not. That’s where I see one of my roles with the EYN Partnership – to cut through all the mixed media messages and replace them with trustworthy nutrition information that’s backed up by scientific research.
This is just part of my job though. Scientific ‘nutrition information’ can still sometimes sound like a foreign language to anyone without nutrition training. After all, children don’t eat ‘protein’, ‘iron’ and ‘complex carbohydrates’; they eat scrambled eggs and sliced pears and yoghurt! That’s why I see an equally important role is acting as a translator – to take the science of nutrition and convert the guidelines and research into real-life strategies and food kids will actually eat. Working with the EYN Partnership allows me to pass this information on to where it’s needed most – to equip nursery staff with the skills to ensure young children are fed well, and to feel confident answering parents’ nutrition queries. I love the idea that the benefits may spread beyond the children actually attending the nursery, to their parents and siblings, and even the families of nursery staff.
I know from working with day nurseries, and from my family’s background in childcare, just how much nursery staff and managers care about the wellbeing of the little people they look after. I’m looking forward to combining my experience in early years nutrition with the enthusiasm of my local day nurseries – together we can help children to have the best start to a healthy life.