September 29, 2020

Website and Cookbook Set Children on Lifetime Path of Health

Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record

Sanitarium Health Food Company in Australia has partnered with Sprout Cooking School to launch a new program on International Cooking Day (September 25, 2020) that teaches skills and principles of healthy living to children.

The 12 before 12initiative gives parents tools to empower primary-aged children to understand meal selection and food preparation, learning 12 essential food skills before they turn 12 years old.

Nutrition experts at Sanitarium joined forces with dietitian Themis Chryssidis and Masterchef contestant Callum Hann from Adelaide’s Sprout Cooking School to develop 12 before 12.

“We created 12 before 12because healthy food habits established in childhood play an important role in our health over our lifetime,” Shane Landon, accredited practicing dietitian and nutrition insights manager for Sanitarium, said of the new program’s intent. “One of the key ways to a healthier diet is having the practical skills to make it happen.

“Food preparation and cooking skills are key ingredients in nutrition education, but we can’t rely on schools to do the job alone, particularly when most meal preparation happens in the home. Teaching children essential food skills needs to sit alongside physical activity as a priority for every … parent — and it can be lots of fun too!” Landon, a father of two, said.

The 12 before 12 infographic showing 12 important healthy-eating skills children can learn before they turn 12. [Photo: Adventist Record]

In helping to identify the 12 skills, Chryssidis from Sprout said they were guided by a mission to simplify healthy-eating advice.

“Somewhere along the way, the healthy-eating message has got so complex,” he said. “We’ve become overly focused on looking at food through the lens of nutrients or kilojoules — the micro detail of what we’re eating — that we’ve lost sight of the bigger-picture behaviors that make healthy eating intuitive. Food has become over-thought, and it’s not doing us any good.

12 before 12’ssimpler message is: eat mostly whole plant-based foods, drink mostly water, cook more at home — and for kids, find ways to sprinkle in some fun,” he added.

Grouped into four key areas — shopping, preparing, cooking, and eating — the 12 before 12skills cover the complete food journey from planning meals and choosing nutritious options at the shops, through to the hands-on tools and techniques children need in the kitchen and the social behaviors that make mealtimes a positive experience for the whole family.

These food skills form the basis of a new Sanitarium cookbook, available as a free digital download from the 12 before 12website. Alongside a collection of healthy recipes that champion vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, three fun characters — Safety Inspector Sally, Waste Warrior Will, and Nutritionist Nate — drop in throughout the cookbook pages to dish out fun facts and handy tips for aspiring home cooks.

12 before 12also reinforces the importance of family mealtimes as an opportunity for parents to model healthy eating behaviors and provide children with a much-needed chance to reconnect after a busy day at school and play, advocates explained.

Evidence from Sanitarium’s Little People Big Lives report demonstrates this is critical for children’s emotional wellbeing, arguably even more so during the current period of stress and uncertainty, program leaders said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Adventist Record.