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Two of Stacey’s children, hard at work in the kitchen
Two of Stacey’s children, hard at work in the kitchen

ParentsOctober 12, 2016

‘There’s more than one way to feed a child well’: Introducing The Spinoff Parents’ resident Kid Food Expert

Two of Stacey’s children, hard at work in the kitchen
Two of Stacey’s children, hard at work in the kitchen

Over the next couple of weeks we’re introducing you to contributors to our parenting blog, The Spinoff Parents. Today Stacy Kemeys (BSc PGDipDiet) explains why being an expert in nutrition trumps being an expert in eating.

Kids eating (or not eating as it were) is a touchy subject. Everyone seems to have opinions on picky eating and getting kids to eat. We wanted to have an expert and a parent to write for us about child nutrition – someone who isn’t selling a book or supplements. Someone who can separate fact from fiction. Someone who lives in the real world that is inhabited by real children. Posts without judgement or unrealistic tips and advice. So we are really happy to introduce you to out kid food expert Stacey! She’s going to write for us about kids and eating – what we really need to know, without the extra clickbait commentary! – Emily Writes, Spinoff Parents editor.

So, what is a Kid Food Expert anyway?

In a nutshell, a Kid Food Expert is me. I am a self-proclaimed Kid Food Expert. Let me explain how I determined that I could rightly claim this title, and you can decide if you are happy with my reasoning.

I have absolutely no letters in front of my name, but I do have a few after it. My nutrition knowledge didn’t come from a Google search or through a six week online course. I ended up with a bit of nutrition knowledge after I spent just short of five years studying it at the University of Otago. I completed a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and then went on to complete a Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics.

Two of Stacey's children hard at work in the kitchen
Two of Stacey’s children hard at work in the kitchen

Some people may counter my qualifications as a determinant of my Kid Food Expertness with the following: I see your human nutrition degrees and qualifications but I raise you a life time of eating.

We are all experts in eating

The fascinating thing about human nutrition is that everyone eats, and all parents also feed their offspring as well. This means that everyone has experience in human nutrition. It’s one of the things that makes my field so interesting.

My response to this is: “Yes of course you know a lot about eating, just as I know a lot about breathing. I know a lot about breathing because I have done it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the 36 years of my life. I am therefore a breathing expert. I am excellent at it.”

That I may be, but I tell you what, if I had an issue with my breathing I wouldn’t be turning to a fellow life-time breathing expert for advice. If I had an issue with my breathing, I would be high tailing it to the hospital to ask the advice of a medical professional, perhaps a respiratory physician. Respiratory physicians not only have a life-time breathing award, they also have the theory to back it up.

In 2003 I was fresh faced, bushy tailed and up to the eyeballs in theory. I had so much theory when it came to human nutrition that I could recite textbooks and quote clinical papers. At this point I should reveal to you all that I am a huge nerd. I am not cool, I am fairly bookish and if I tell the complete and honest truth I loved school. I was a font of nutrition knowledge but I have one more confession: I was also about as practical as a waterproof tea bag. Theory is interesting, but not at all useful.

So I worked

I worked as a dietician for 10 years. I learnt a lot. It took me places – not well paid places (as most of us work in public hospitals) – but definitely places. I met lots of people, young and old, with all types of nutritional needs, some weird and wonderful, some very mundane, but all of them interesting. I became more and more useful.

Then I fell pregnant

Then I had a baby

Then I realised I knew basically nothing about the practicalities of actually feeding babies and kids in the real world.

But then I fell pregnant again, had another baby, and then another. Now at number three I think I can say with a bit of confidence I now know what I am doing when it comes to feeding babies and children.

My That’s Crap-o-Meter

My study and previous employment has armed me with a fabulous ‘that’s crap-o-meter’. Five years of nutrition training and another decade of keeping up with nutrition research through work and clinical practice has taught me that science is always changing. New valid concepts and ideas will emerge, so we must keep reading and learning and taking on the new ideas. But – and it’s a big one – invalid ideas and concepts will also emerge, and these could well be masquerading on social media as well grounded, reasonable and rational recommendations.

It is at this point that I become so excited about this new The Spinoff Parents venture Emily is heading up. I feel well equipped with my excellent That’s Crap-o-Meter in the area of nutrition. My meter however is very specific. It only extends to nutrition topics. The exciting thing about The Spinoff Parents is that there are going to be a group of people with amazing That’s Crap-o-Meters who will help us, me included, negotiate most areas of parenting.

When it comes to nutrition I know there is more than one way to feed a child well. Boob, bottle, finger or spoon, you will find no Mummy Wars in the information I present. Just the current evidence presented in a way that hopefully provides you the information you need to make informed choices and decisions.

So that is me, in a nutshell. Your resident Kid Food Expert. I can’t wait to get the show on the road.

Stacey is not currently practicing as a dietician. At present she is managing the lives of three very little people in Tauranga. Whilst taking some time away from the working world she writes about feeding kids at My Kids Lick The Bowl. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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