‘Nourish Without Nagging – How to Get Your Kids to Love Eating Healthily’ isn’t something that happened overnight, it’s been in the works for a long time.  Just the other day I was going through old files on my computer when I found the document that started it all and realised it’s been almost 5 years to the day!
Back on 16th January 2011 I was booked in to be interviewed by Lucy Cornes on radio station 5AA.  Lucy was interviewing me about kids and how to get them to love eating healthy.  That’s not unusual… I am constantly getting asked this at seminars, through podcasts and in my chiropractic practice by frustrated parents desperate for help with their kids eating habits.  In preparation for the interview I typed up some notes.  Those notes eventually evolved into the book!  ‘From little things, big things grow’. These notes are how it all started and what the book was based on, although they don’t give the complete story!  When you read the book it’ll all make sense!
Here are the notes:
Kids’ meals and snacks – Disclaimer:  Nobody is perfect 🙂
1.  No short term fixes
  • Nagging
  • Bribing (with unhealthy stuff)
  • Smacking/shouting
  • Punishing
  • Even – hiding vegetables

In the long term this just makes eating healthily seem like an unwanted chore

2.  No boring reasons
  • Healthy
  • Nutritious
  • Heart disease, cancer, strokes, arthritis

These things aren’t sexy for a child, this won’t motivate your kids

3.  Link healthy foods to what they like
  • Sport
  • Being smart
  • Being tall/fast/jumping high
  • Having healthy skin
  • Having energy
  • Be careful with healthy weight or good looks

This will motivate your kids

4.  Teach them to judge food by how they feel after, not before or during

  • Point it out to them
  • Praise them during and after
  • Praise them to others with them in earshot
  • Use questions
  • Link their performance the next day to their good eating
  • Point out to them the negative effects of their poor eating

This teaches your kids the real effects of healthy and unhealthy foods

5.  Role model healthy food

  • Make a big deal out of it
  • Do it together
  • Use lots of positive words (yummy)
  • Teach them to LOVE to not HAVE to eat healthily

Kids love to copy their parents and will see straight through you if you don’t practice what you preach

6.  When you make exceptions tell them why you only make them occasionally

  • Don’t make it a reward (reward with healthy things like praise or fun activities)
  • Be wary what links you are making up with your kids and junk food
  • Don’t use it to ‘cheer them up’
  • Let them know when occasionally is

You don’t want to create unhealthy food links in your kids brains like junk food makes me happy/helps me celebrate or lifts my mood when I am down

7.  Have a routine

  • encourage your kids to eat at meal time
  • minimise snacking

Kids love and respond to routine

8.  Surround your kids with healthy options

  • Make it really easy to choose healthy stuff
  • Play on their laziness 🙂
  • Create Happy meals
    • Create a story, ‘spinach makes Popeye strong etc’
    • Make it look fun: shapes, colours etc. Tie in with the story and what they love
    • Give it a great name – Shrek’s green juice

If you make it easier to eat healthy than not, you are off to a flying start

9.  Healthy rewards

  • Praise, especially in front of others
  • Earnt pocket money
  • Healthy sweet stuff-berries, nut balls w/honey, favourite fruit
  • Fun activity

This teaches kids to ‘reward’ themselves with healthy behaviours

10.  Keep trying

  • Junk food companies advertise every day because they know how repetition works
  • It usually doesn’t work one day or even week one

It won’t happen overnight buy you only fail when YOU give up.


Once I’d completed the book, I sent out review copies to a number of nutritionists, psychologists and Mums for feedback.  I was pretty blown away by the response I got, especially from the Mums who had implemented some of the principles with their kids and couldn’t believe the difference it made, and how much it turned around their kids eating.  Hearing the success stories from Mums make it all worthwhile.

The amazing Cyndi O’Meara, Nutritionist and founder of Changing Habits wrote the foreword for the book:

My children are in their 20’s, they were brought up on real foods.  My pantry and fridge was filled with single ingredients which in turn enabled me to make 1000’s of recipes to which I knew exactly how they were produced.  Therefore I knew I was giving my children the best start in life producing the best foods, with only real ingredients.  Our meals, including breakfast were all eaten at the table without distractions, no TV’s or screens in sight.  Conversations were lively, and now I watch my adult children eat as I have taught them and I watch them influence partners and friends.  It’s a knock on affect that is life-changing.

Most children are not brought up this way.  We have become a society where most parents have been seduced by the food industry with it’s clever advertising and marketing with foods that may look and smell and taste like food but are riddled with chemicals disguised as food.  We march down the aisle of the grocery store, unthinkingly picking the same packages that we have done for years, not knowing the ingredients and where they have come from but rather knowing the health claims on the front and the clever marketing tactics that have driven us to buy.

We have a crisis, our children are getting sicker and food has a huge part to play in this problem.  Dr Brett Hill goes through the statistics of ill health in this book.  Many people are turning a blind eye to the issue and believing it won’t happen to them, but there are very few families that go unscathed without physical and mental health issues.

Our kids are mimics that watch what we do, if this is what we are teaching them then they in turn will teach their children and so on through the generations.  If we continue down this track, it will not get better but rather much worse.

I have had the absolute privilege of sharing a meal with Dr Brett Hill at his home with his two beautiful children.  He cooked a delicious meal and as a group we sat at the table eating meat and vegetables with a jelly fruit for dessert – homemade of course with just three ingredients (gelatine, fruit and water).  I watched Tom and Charlotte eat a meal, including vegetables without complaint or cajoling from their father, lovingly prepared from scratch and had the most amazing conversation with them both.  It made my heart swell with pride for a single man to have created such an amazing culture of eating, food and socialising for his children.

Dr Brett has mastered the art of teaching his children what will give their body the best fuel in order for them to be the best and healthiest version of themselves.  This is what we all want for our children.  If you have lost your way then this book will help you find it again.  Step by step, this book teaches you the principles and gives you stories and ideas of how to create a culture within your family that helps your children choose the foods that will help them be the best mentally and physically.

Dr Natasha Campbell McBride once said to me; “it is our empowered divine right as parents to get back into the kitchen, to feed our children in order to heal a nation.”  I couldn’t agree more.  By getting back into the kitchen with the children watching on or even helping starts a revolution.   A revolution of bringing back our health.

Oh and one last thing, it’s never too late to start, even adults can change.

Happy Changing Habits

Cyndi O’Meara Nutritionist, Author and Founder of Changing Habits

Click here to purchase your copy of Nourish Without Nagging