I wrote Connie Carrot based on my desire to encourage my daughter to eat carrots.
The idea was born when she was just two years old and starting to make up her own mind about the foods she liked to eat. As she tried different foods so more characters were created. In those days it was before I had become a nutritional therapist, but I read and consumed as much as possible on the subject of nutrition and seemed to have an innate understanding of foods and how they create health. I was fascinated by the individual nutrients in fresh foods and what these nutrients ware responsible for. Unlike most people, I could not forget about the food I had eaten once I had swallowed it. I wanted to know how the body uses those nutrients. How did the body get the nutrients from the foods? What was the chemistry involved?
The book that had a huge influence on me, and was in fact my first book on nutrition that I owned, was Paul Pitchford’s: “Healing with Wholefoods” – it is a truly enlightening book and so fascinating that I still read it now hundreds of books later.
I think myself (and my children and husband) very fortunate that I had such a passion about food and health. I changed my diet completely for the 6 months before conceiving my daughter which meant my pregnancy and post pregnancy was nutritionally supported well so that my recovery was very quick. I had a huge influence on my husband’s diet, which was appalling before he met me. Even though he was very fit, his diet was seriously nutrient deficient, loaded with toxins and mixed with the stress of his work would have eventually had a detrimental affect on his health. That was twenty years ago and he is still healthy and fit.
I didn’t stop there I knew how important good nutrition was and I created the stories at the dinner table, sketching characters so that my children would choose to eat the foods and not just be coaxed into eating them. This way they learned why the foods are important, what they do for them in their bodies. Later I decided to halt my career in design and go back to college to study nutritional therapy and become a clinical nutritional therapist. It is a subject that effects us all in the most personal way, your health IS what you consume – no matter how much exercise you do, you cannot truly be healthy unless you eat (and drink) well. Eating well even affects the state of mind and well-being. Nutrient deficiencies can have the most profound effect on our lives without us realising. The medical profession are so behind in their understanding of nutrition and how it affects health, even scientists recognise that medicine is 30 years behind the science of nutrition. They have only just started to consider the real affects and this is mainly down to the media and the public being more aware and the availability of information on the internet.
My children are now teenagers and they do eat foods which I consider unhealthy like pizza and sometime s too much pasta, but they know not to eat too much dairy, white carbs, sugar and fried foods. They rarely drink anything sweet as this seems like a strange thing to do – especially with food. They don’t eat desert. Not that I refuse – but we don’t as a family, and it seems crazy to them why anyone would eat a meal and be full and then eat a dish of sweet starchy foods on top of it. They know these are best eaten away from meals and rarely. They are not deprived though – they have Easter eggs and Halloween sweets, and enjoy chocolate biscuits and crisps. Sometimes they have an ice cream. Thankfully they know that if they get enough nutrients from fresh foods then they have the reserves so that the body can process the sugar and carbohydrates properly. Lack of nutrients or if you like ‘nutrient empty, high calorie foods’ are the biggest cause of obesity today, along with so many health issues. if you consider that Vitamins, minerals, essential proteins and fats are needed for millions of reactions in the body every second. For example we need Vitamin C on a constant basis in the body, for so many processes: tissue integrity, metabolism and energy production, hormone regulation, immune function and protection to name just a few. Which makes the RDA of 60mg (recommended daily allowance) seem insignificant, we are one of the very few animals on this planet that does not make our own vitamin C. Rats make 2000mg of Vitamin C in times of stress!.
I believe that nature adapted us not to make Vitamin C as we (humans) would live too long!
The truth is we cannot control everything our children eat, but if we teach them about the effects of food on their health from an early age, this will have so much more effect than waiting until they are teenagers to try to convince them to eat healthily. It is when they are young that they need to learn, because they are open to learning. They live in wonder at things and what can be more wonderful to a child to learn that the humble little blueberry could protect them from colds and improve the way their brain works! Or that carrots really keep their eyes healthy and that broccoli can make their bones strong! Or who would have thought that an avocado can help with spelling tests!
The reason that my books work is that they become part of the family, the characters are like their school friends, they can’t help but learn about foods and they will absorb the information. Families can keep the books so that children read them as they grow up, learning something new each time they pick them up.