There can be few of us who are not aware of the changing shape of the younger generation. They are often taller but more of them than ever are overweight, not by just a pound or two but by enough to significantly impair their health. The CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization in Australia) Wellbeing Plan for Kids is designed to provide ways in which parents can positively influence their child’s eating and physical activity habits to counteract this “growing trend”.
It is a book for all parents wanting to lead a healthier life and enables them to teach their children healthy habits that they can take with them into adulthood. It’s more about lifestyle than diets which, to be honest, we all have trouble sticking to. Even small changes can make a big difference if they become lifelong positive habits.
The Wellbeing Plan for Kids provides a step-by-step regime for families to make healthy changes to their eating and activities. In 2007 the CSIRO was involved in undertaking the first national survey of Australian children’s eating and activity habits in over a decade. The survey found that, across the board, children are not eating enough dairy, fruit and vegetables, and wholegrain cereal foods for good health, and are consuming too much saturated fat, sugar and salt. That’s not unique to Australia. As children get older they tend to be far less active, they sleep less due to the temptations of TV (often a set in the bedroom) and computer games.
To learn what information parents would find most helpful they surveyed over 1,200 parents. They told CSIRO that knowing what kinds of food and activity children need is important but knowing how to encourage children to eat the right things and to take more exercise was the fundamental problem.
Each of the chapters in Part 2 of the Wellbeing Plan for Kids provides advice about monitoring what your child eats and their activity level. It’s under the heading ‘Where do I start?’ The monitoring checklists and tables from the book are available to download from the CSIRO site and you can refer to the book for information on how to complete these tables. There are benchmarks to compare against. The tables include those for vegetables, breakfasts, lunchboxes, evening meals, screen use, and activities.
So, OK that’s got the technical part over with. It’s the recipes that you’ll find useful in your quest for healthier kids. These have got to be tempting or your youngsters will refuse to eat and make your life a misery. These don’t have the feel of boring health foods but they are tasty and child-friendly. For example Chicken Potato Cakes with Cucumber Yoghurt is a burger you’ll make for all the family. Spice lovers could add some additional flavouring to create an Indian or Italian themed burger.
Children love pasta and it’s a quick meal to prepare. This volume offers some varieties which are sure to please everyone. Fettuccine with Tomato, Tuna and Lemon, Spaghetti with Mushrooms, Ham and Broccoli, and Quick-baked Fusilli and Meatballs amongst others offers enough to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Mix and match pasta shapes with sauces.
Desserts can be a challenge to any of us watching our weight. More so for kids who crave anything sweet. Strawberry and Banana Popsicles are powder-pink ice lollies that will actually do the kids some good, although it might not be a good idea to tell them so. You can use plastic cups or even empty yoghurt pots to mould these.
The CSIRO Wellbeing Plan for Kids is a volume to aid parents and to support them in instilling in their children good eating and exercise habits. There is all you need here to allow you to tweak your lifestyle and to eat well. Great value for money.
Cookbook review: The CSIRO Wellbeing Plan for Kids
Published by: Penguin
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018