Hi, I’m Kelly Richardson, the Gourmet Nutritionist. I’m very happy to be working with Lifelong Learning Centres around Australia to bring my ideas about nutrition, eating and education to the most important people – your children.

This year we’ll be releasing videos, tips and recipes you can use at home, and which will be used in Lifelong Learning Centres across Australia.

As a parent, or as an educator - it’s never too early to share good nutrition with children. We want to help them form good habits in their first five years – which will set them up for healthy lives!

Lifelong Learning Centres & Nutrition

As educators, we know good nutrition is vital for your child to reach their full potential. Our Lifelong Learning Centres around Australia feature a variety of food options – from fully catered, to in-centre cooks preparing fresh meals in kitchens.

All our centres follow the National Quality Framework in promoting healthy eating to children, and in providing nutritious food and drink. Discussing food and how we source it keeps children connected to their world and allows them to take increasing responsibility for their own health.

Top Tips for Healthy Children
Include your children in meal planning and preparation.
Keep food fresh, colourful and attractive.
Combine fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein and carbohydrate in each meal.
Find out about the benefits healthy food choices and tell your child.
Offer a variety of healthy food options at every meal.
Praise your child for making healthy food choices.
Recipe of the Month
Recipe #1: Cauliflower & Pea Fritters with Mint Yoghurt
Recipe #2: Hearty Vegetable Curry
Recipe #3: Gluten Free Sweet Potato Brownies with Avocado Chocolate Frosting
Gluten Free Sweet Potato Brownies
What’s in typical processed snacks and treats for lunchboxes may surprise you. Watch as Kelly Richardsonexplains how to read food labels on processed packaging to make the best choices for your child.
Video #6: Tips for a Healthy Lunch
Video #5: Tips To Fill Up Fussy Eaters
Video #4: Quick and Healthy Meals
Video #3: Food Swaps for Healthy Eating
Video #2: Healthy Eating Habits
Video #1: Reading Food Labels
Healthy Children Resources Tips and Recipes
Reading (and understanding!) Packaged Food Labels

Food manufacturers are very clever at marketing products to make them appear healthier than they actually are. Words such as ‘organic’, ‘gluten free’, ‘no added sugar’, ‘no additives’, ‘child-friendly’ etc are very persuasive. Coupled with an image of a happy smiley face and bright coloured packaging, parents are understandably drawn in down the supermarket aisle.

But we need to look past this and look at two important things. Firstly, the nutrition panel, and secondly the ingredients list. Here’s a few tips to help you easily determine what’s the best choice for your child.

Nutrition Panel

  • Quantity per 100g
This means you can easily put nutritional values into a percentage of the whole product. We’re looking for a good balance of quality proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fibre. For example, if you are looking at a packaged muesli bar, there might be 60g of carbohydrates (which is 60%) and 16.5g of sugar (16.5%). Now let’s explain sugar…
  • Sugar rule of 4
1 teaspoon of sugar is approximately 4g. Therefore, if one muesli bar is 31g and 5.2g of this is sugar, that’s more than one whole teaspoon of sugar per bar! That’s why it’s better to make those sweet treats at home using a lot less sugar, such as Kelly’s bliss ball’s or nut free muesli bar recipes.
  • Energy (kJ or Cal)
Children need enough energy for all their running around, but not too much where they aren’t using it over a continual period. A good guideline to follow is somewhere between 500-700kjs or 100-150cals as a good snack size for a child.

Ingredients List
  • First = most!
Here is where you need to ensure that you are happy with exactly what your child is putting into their tummy! The first thing you need to know is that the ingredients are listed in order of quantity. So there is most of the first, and least of the last.
  • Spot the sugar
Immediately if you see sugar in the top three listed ingredients alarm bells should be going off! The hard part is that sugar can come under lots of names so it can be tricky to spot. Essentially anything ending in ‘-ose’ is sugar, e.g. sucrose, lactose, maltose etc.
  • If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!
You may see words in the ingredients list that you don’t know what they are – that’s because they are artificial manufactured products. The same goes for anything with numbers, for example E492 – there are loads of free apps that can help you identify what these ‘E numbers’ are, but as a general rule it’s best to just stay away from them as they can often upset little stomachs!
  • Anything written in bold could potentially be an allergen
If you have a child who is particularly sensitive to allergies, it is much safer to avoid these products altogether to prevent any kind of potential reaction or negative effects on your child’s behaviour.
  • Best before date
The longer the shelf life, the more additives and preservatives and the less nutrients the product has.

This may seem like a lot to take in, but really it is very simple to stick to the basic rule that fresh is best!

Watch our ‘Reading Food Labels’ video to hear more from Kelly, and download this month’s recipes to try at home!