Kate Di Prima is a leading Australian dietitian and is passionate about the health of families and educating future generations. She’s regarded as an expert in treating children who are fussy and picky eaters and has authored and co-authored several cookbooks including More Peas Please: Solutions for Feeding Fussy Eaters and Kids Meals the whole family will love.
In the Growing Happy Little Veggie-mites! podcast Kate says that although we have an abundance of fresh, sustainable and affordable food at our fingertips, in many Australian households, the food rainbow is not transferring to the dinner plate.
“It’s a big concern for dietitians and parents,” Kate said.
“I’ve been in this practice now for about 30 years, and still, we are seeing these worrying statistics, that only four per cent of adult Australians get their daily quota of vegetables or salad and children are getting even less.”
Kate, who has been a spokesperson for Dietitians Australia for 20 years and is also on the board of Nutrition Australia, says that just as we schedule exercise, planning our meals for the week is vital if we want to help our families eat well.
“It doesn’t mean you have to put a chef extraordinaire dish on the table every single night, it’s about just making sure you’ve got, A, the ingredients in the fridge, and B, you feel comfortable cooking what you are making, and also having a bit of variety, because we all get bored with the same thing.”
“The main thing is, if adults are eating veggies and salads then children will get used to it, but if they’re not even on an adult plate, children can’t hop in a car and go and buy their own meal, so we need to be good role models.”
Kate says growing some of your own veggies at home and establishing vegetable gardens in schools and preschools goes a long way towards teaching children good nutrition habits from an early age.
And although it can be a challenge, she recommends parents try to teach kids how to read and understand food labels, so they know what ingredients are in certain products.
Plus, avoid the junk food marketing push by grocery shopping with product placement in mind.
“As a rule of thumb, when you’re at the supermarket, stick to the outside, which has your core food items like fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and breads. The central part of the supermarket has more of the packaged and processed food items,” Kate says.
“We want to be avoiding foods that contain flavour enhancers, an MSG or equivalent. Unfortunately, once children have these foods with flavour enhancers an incredible, large amount of salt, of course they’re going to move away from vegetables and salad because their tastebuds have been a bit thwarted by this.”
After COVID and Christmas, we could all use some inspiration and expert tips on how to get the diet back on track.
In this podcast for Life Education Queensland, Kate talks about the hot button diet issues facing many families from managing fussy eaters and allergies to the simple strategies to help busy families eat healthier.
Find out more in this engaging chat with dietitian Kate Di Prima.