Hi, I’m Sarah, a Registered Nutritionist based in Scotland. My perspective on what matters in nutrition has changed over the years and this series is an opportunity for me to chat with people I admire about how we communicate about food. I’ll explore where we’re at just now and what we can collectively do to make a difference, making eating well without stress a reality for all children and families.
The language of nutrition and health, with Maxine Ali
I’m delighted that today’s episode, the final of this series, is with Maxine Ali, someone who really understands the language of health. If you don’t already know Maxine’s work, she is a writer, journalist and linguist, with a focus on women’s health and wellness culture. She has an MSc in Medical Humanities from King’s College London, currently works in academic publishing, and is an advocate for inclusion and diversity within the health sciences. Our conversation is quite broad and we go off on a few tangents - I am definitely at the tired stage of lockdown with kids! We chat about the problems with some of the dichotomous terms that are used about children’s food, the classist connotations of terms like “junk food”, and stigmatising language around weight. We touch on lifestyle medicine, health media and the gendered approach to parenting, then go on to think about helping children challenge the narratives they experience about certain foods or bodies, and the importance of including diverse perspectives in policy formation.
Some of the things we mention are:
Edd Kimber's books: https://www.theboywhobakes.co.uk/
Change 4 Life 2019 advert, where mum does the shopping: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWE_UMno5P8
The Conscious Kid, an organisation set up to support families and educators to raise antiracist kids: https://www.theconsciouskid.org/
Happiful magazine: https://happiful.com/
Maxine's website: http://maxineali.com/
Maxine on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maxineali/
And, as ever, you can find me at: https://www.sarahdempster.co.uk/
Connecting communities through food, with Ruth Davie
In this episode, I chat with my friend Ruth Davie, a community nutritionist who runs a food project called Fundamental Foods in Prestonpans, East Lothian. We chat about how she got started in community nutrition after she completed her nutrition degree, and how her work has changed over the past few years, as concerns around food insecurity have increased. This episode is for you whether you’re a parent or professional if you’ve ever been interested in what community food projects do, especially when it comes to addressing the difficulties that so many families are currently facing in simply accessing enough food. It may also be of interest to anyone studying nutrition who wants to know more about the types of projects that are looking for volunteers to help you gain experience.
Some of the things we mention are:
BBC good food, where Ruth goes for recipe inspiration for her cooking classes: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes
Fare Share, and organisation that redistributes surplus food to charities: https://fareshare.org.uk/what-we-do/
Ruth's organisation Fundamental Foods, which is part of the Pennypit Community Development Trust: https://www.thepennypitcommunitydevelopmenttrust.com/community-nutrition
I also thought it might be useful to share some details of other organisations working on community food and food insecurity.
In Scotland, the Poverty and Inequality Commission are looking at wider actions to address food insecurity, and produced this recent report: https://povertyinequality.scot/publication/local-action-to-tackle-food-insecurity-during-the-coronavirus-crisis/
Other community food projects based in Scotland, along with national work to support community food, can be found through Community Food and Health Scotland: https://www.communityfoodandhealth.org.uk/
At a UK level, the Food Foundation is working hard to realise children's right to food: https://foodfoundation.org.uk/childrens-future-food-inquiry/
And of course, there is much more going on nationally and internationally to support equitable access to nutritious food.
You can contact Ruth via the Pennypit at the link above, or find her on twitter: https://twitter.com/fundamentalruth
You can contact me at https://www.sarahdempster.co.uk/
It's not about the omega-3. Child feeding with Caroline O'Connor RD, IBCLC
Caroline O'Connor is a Registered Dietitian and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant based in Ireland's second-biggest city, Cork (sorry people of Cork for saying it's out of the way... it's a big city, I know, I know). Caroline has worked as a Dietitian for almost 20 years and specialises in paediatric nutrition, now running her own business Solid Start where she offers one-to-one support as well as online weaning courses.
We talk about some of the issues Caroline helps families work through in her clinic; some of the ways that parents can nurture a positive and relaxed feeding relationship; supporting breastfeeding and what prompted Caroline to take an additional qualification in lactation; our shared concerns about the influence of the food industry in children’s nutrition; and why Caroline thinks it’s great that there are more Dietitians talking about child feeding on social media. I hope that both parents and professionals can find something interesting or helpful in the conversation. We don't share a lot of detailed advice as you will hear Caroline explaining that specific child feeding advice does need to be offered one-to-one by a qualified professional.
The resources that we mention in the conversation are:
Dina Rose's book "It's not about the broccoli" - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-Not-About-Broccoli-Lifetime/dp/0399164189
The Worry Cycle, which comes from Katja Rowell & Jenny McGlothlin's book "Helping your child with extreme picky eating" - https://www.extremepickyeating.com/about-the-book/
Amy Brown's book "The positive breastfeeding book" - https://www.pinterandmartin.com/the-positive-breastfeeding-book
First Steps Nutrition Trust - https://www.firststepsnutrition.org/
You can find Caroline at http://www.solidstart.ie/
You can contact me at https://www.sarahdempster.co.uk/
Food, parenting and identity with Dr Michelle Webster
Dr Michelle Webster is a Lecturer in Sociology at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research sits at the intersection between the sociology of food, childhood and the family as well as medical sociology. In this episode, we chat about:
the role that sociology can play in helping understand people's relationships with food
the links between the way people eat and their social identity
the concept of "intensive parenting" and how this can affect the way we feed children
the role of food in grandparent - grandchild relationships
Michelle's research on families who use the ketogenic diet to treat childhood epilepsy, and the ways they adapt to the extensive changes this makes to the ways they feed their child.
Michelle then shares some suggestions that I definitely agree with on a range of policy changes that could help support people to have positive relationships with food.
Links to some of the things Michelle mentions in the interview:
Michelle's profile at Royal Holloway: https://pure.royalholloway.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/michelle-webster(efe2572c-e402-4f8c-94a4-20c5aec00487).html
Webster, M., & Gabe, J. (2016). Diet and identity: being a good parent in the face of contradictions presented by the ketogenic diet. Sociology of health & illness, 38(1), 123–136. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12330 available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4989473/
Charlotte Faircloth & Ellie Lee's work at Centre for Parenting Culture Studies: https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/parentingculturestudies/resources/cpcs-books/#parenting-culture-studies
Oli Williams' Equity is the Answer exhibition: http://www.actwithlove.co.uk/equity.html
You can find me at: sarahdempster.co.uk
Compassionate infant feeding support with Dr Erin Williams from Feed
Dr Erin Williams is a Reproductive Biologist and one of the co-founders of Feed, a small independent organisation that wants compassionate, unbiased, science-based infant feeding information to be provided to all families. Feed is different because they don’t prioritise one feeding method over another. They encourage acceptance that parents are the experts in making the right choices for their own families.
Anyone who has ever fed a baby has their own story - it can be an intense, overwhelming, emotional experience. Erin and I talk about the judgment and pressure that can be felt around infant feeding, the language that's used in relation to formula and breastfeeding and the impact that this can have on parents, why parenting conversations can be so polarised (especially on social media), the influence of the formula industry, and what we can do to be more supportive of all families infant feeding decisions.
This conversation is not intended to provide any advice, just to explore where we’re at and what Feed are doing to try to make a difference and to ensure that all families feel supported.
Feed website: https://feeduk.org/
Fallon, V., Harrold, J.A. & Chishom, A. (2019) The impact of the UK Baby Friendly Initiative on maternal and infant health outcomes: A mixed‐methods systematic review. https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12778
You can find me at: www.sarahdempster.co.uk
Are we pressuring parents to raise “perfect” eaters? With Laura Thomas, PhD
Laura Thomas, PhD, is a Registered Nutritionist with a PGDip in Eating Disorders. She specializes in weight inclusive, person-centred care and has a special interest in how we can support healthy relationships to food in adults and kids.
In this episode, we chat about Laura’s pregnancy, some of the weird things we say to pregnant people, how eating habits change during pregnancy and how pressure can show up around nutrition as soon as we start thinking about having a baby.
We share our thoughts on why feeding little ones is such an emotive topic, why it’s NOT your fault if your kid suddenly stops eating certain foods, and why in nutrition we need to be careful with the messages that we share with parents around food.
Laura shares her insights from working clinically with parents, including some of the longer-term repercussions of an intense focus on diet in childhood, why using food to soothe can be part of your coping toolkit, the importance of self-compassion, and how Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in feeding can help parents raise intuitive eaters.
We end the conversation by talking about Laura’s work to develop practice within the nutrition field, why it’s so important to have clinical supervision if you’re a nutrition practitioner who works with individuals, why we don’t see ourselves as ‘experts’ and what Laura thinks we should be pushing for change on within the nutrition field.
Don’t salt my game episode on raising kids with healthy relationships to food
London Centre for Intuitive Eating - raising intuitive eaters course
London Centre for Intuitive Eating - professional courses
Laura's Bub Appetit Instagram
Ellyn Satter Institute - Division of Responsibility in Feeding
And find me at: www.sarahdempster.co.uk
I look forward to every episode. Such as insightful podcast