Five Questions for Kath Megaw
August 2015 will see the release of the cookbook for kids – Real Food, Healthy, Happy Children penned by paediatric dietician Kath Megaw with Daisy Jones and recipes by Kath, Phillippa Cheifitz and Jane-Anne Hobbs. The book explores the theory behind this lifestyle and why it is suitable for the whole family. It includes over 100 recipes for yummy food that will appeal to kids from toddlers to teenagers. This lifestyle aims to sustain energy, reduce sugar cravings, improve concentration, increase health and vitality, improve digestion, help with strategies for fussy eaters and help reach and maintain a healthy body weight.
Read more about Kath’s personal journey HERE.
Kath Megaw holds four medical qualifications including a paediatric dietetic qualification from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. She has been published in the Epilepsia journal on the use of the paediatric ketogenic diet in third-world settings and frequently speaks to groups of both professionals and parents on infant and childhood nutrition. She also speaks on television and radio. She is the co-author of Feeding Sense (Metz Press, 2012), has been in private practice for the past 15 years and is the founder of Nutripaeds, a paediatric dietetic practice. She is married with three children (aged 9, 12 and 16).
You’ve been in practice working specifically with children with epilepsy and the ketogenic diet for many years. Did you foresee that this style of eating would become mainstream for the general population as it has with the LCHF movement?
Yes, I have worked for over 16 years in the field, specifically the application of the Ketogenic diet. In 2008, after attending an international Ketogenic conference, my thoughts were confirmed that a mainstream adaption of this diet could, and should be practised in all homes. It was clear that consuming a lower amount of carbs and rethinking our ban on fat would have a huge impact, especially in obesity in children. I decided to start with my own children, even though they weren’t overweight because the positive outcomes are not only weight related.
Another benefit of a low-carb lifestyle that doesn’t get spoken about enough is how reducing our intake of sugar and refined foods positively impacts our immune systems. There are studies that show that giving lower amounts of sugar to ICU patients in hospital aids in recovery by improving immune function. The result is a lowered ICU infection rate. It appears that ‘bugs’ love sugar as much as we do!
There has been some furore caused when people have suggested this style of eating for kids, what makes the approach of this book different?
Firstly it’s not an all or nothing approach; being a mom of three kids and also working full time, I appreciate the reality of changing your family’s lifestyle. Having gone through the baby, toddler and teenage phases has helped me understand and empathise with parents who are wanting to make the change but find it a bit overwhelming. I seldom find parents disagreeing that they should eat this way, but instead there is a panic as to how to go about it. This book answers this question as well as understanding the challenges. We know that change takes time — it doesn’t happen overnight. Food is more than just nutrition; feeding your family includes taking note of the social, emotional and sensory aspect of eating. We discuss these through the different ages in a very practical way.
The thing we seem to hear most from moms and families is that replacing lunchbox sandwiches with other alternatives is really tough. What would be your advice on this point?
Think out the box… for example, I really struggled with my teenage son’s school lunchbox as his staple was sandwiches. He actually suggested that I send him leftovers from the night before and he was prepared to eat this cold. Something I hadn’t even thought of.
My daughter on the other had loves a hand lunch of yoghurt, crudités, dips, cold pieces of chicken, hard boiled eggs and cheese. My 9 year old refuses to take yoghurt, but loves crustless quiche and homemade meatballs (both the quiche and meatballs I cook in advance and freeze). So my advice is to speak to your children – you may be surprised with what they like. I actually find our lunchbox time is cut in half since ditching the sandwiches.
What is your golden rule that helps make identifying the right food choice easily?
My golden rule is: the food on your plate must resemble the food in its most natural form. It must have been handled minimally by human hands with as few processes as possible in order to get onto the table. Lastly aim for at least 80% of your diet from foods that don’t require labelling!
Your favourite recipe in the book?
Only one? The Sweet Cottage Pie is always a hit and so easy to make …
Make 2 of the yummy recipes from the book –