Today we talk about Let’s Eat & bHealthy with Healthy Hanna, a book by Charlotte Meschede published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Charlotte Meschede, to get to know her better, where she found the inspiration to write her book Let’s Eat & bHealthy with Healthy Hanna, as well as if she had personally experienced what she told in her book.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- Where did you find the inspiration to write this book?
The original idea for the book was to provide an educational tool for targeted communities. I have long been aware of the power of education, especially with regard to children. The younger they are, the more positive the response. I remember the first time I addressed Grade one children at a school in Johannesburg (6-7 year olds), how amazed I was at, not only their interest in the subject, but the maturity and depth of questions that they asked. It made me realise that simply dictating to children what they should and shouldn’t eat carried so much negativity. Once you give children an explanation as to why certain foods are good to eat and what happens to the body when one eats unhealthy foods, then they are far more likely to practise healthier habits. Children (as do most people) thrive on positive reinforcement, rather than using scare tactics to make them more compliant. Obviously, there is initially resistance to changing from favourite foods like chocolate cereals to whole grain alternatives, but these changes can be subtle and if orchestrated with intent, can be very successful.
- What is the message you want to send out to young children and parents?
I think the perception in the general public that healthy foods are expensive and difficult to prepare, so it is simply easier to buy cheap fast food. In many circumstances, both parents work so the time available for food shopping and preparation is minimal. Stress continues to play havoc with most parents and many times they will opt for the line of least resistance with regard to providing food for the family. They will buy the foods that they know children will eat and at least reduce the battles that may be faced at the dinner table. However, in my opinion, there is no such thing as cheap food. If you compromise on nutrition, you will inevitably pay the price medically at some point. In addition, childhood obesity has become a global trend. Overweight and obese children will almost always become overweight or obese adults, accompanied by all the secondary medical conditions that piggyback on excess fat stores in the body. One of the intentions I had behind writing this book was to give parents the tools they need to get their children on board when it comes to choosing healthier meals. If children buy into the fact that healthy eating will make virtually every aspect of their lives easier and more enjoyable, then they will ultimately want to do what is right. This does not mean that they should never have treats such as sweets, chocolate, ice-cream or the occasional fast food. However, my motto with my children was to feed your body first and provide the tools (nutrients) that the body needs before having the treats. In other words, treats were added as a bonus or a special occasion, not as food!
- Have you experienced yourself what you told in your book? How and when?
First and foremost, I am a mother and secondly, a dietician by profession. I say ‘mother’ first because although I qualified at a very young age, I certainly did not have an adequate understanding of how complex raising children could be. Obviously, my dietetic knowledge guided me in the right direction, but since I had 4 children, I faced many challenges with regard to time, available budget and simply put, fussy eaters. I didn’t always get it right either and many times fell into the trap of an easy way out by providing food that I knew they would eat, only to pay the consequences later, either through hyperactivity, illness or lethargy. I also loved to cook and baking was probably one of my earliest passions, but I had to channel that so as not to compromise the quality of meals on a daily basis. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have 6 grandchildren, so I am aware of the pressures that mothers of young children face currently. When I had young children, I did have many challenges, but these days, the availability of fast food, opportunities to eat out as well as the constant exposure through media makes parenting, and particularly food provision a complex and sometimes impossible goal to achieve.
- How would you describe your writing style?
My writing style is definitely quite different in this book as I am targeting an audience that needs to be intrigued in order to turn over the page. They need to see something that will peak their interest. The illustrator I used did a fantastic job in my opinion, as she captured the images and expressions on the children with great effect. I also needed to create characters with whom they could identify without becoming personal targets. Healthy Hanna really had life easy when it came to school, sport and health largely due to the fact that she chose a healthy lifestyle, whilst Junkfood Jake simply battled from one activity to the other. The fact that Junkfood Jake was able to partake of healthy eating and feel better means he could lose his image of being ‘Junkfood Jake’ and simply become Jake. I must admit though, that although the book appears to be simple, it is probably the most difficult work I have had to complete to date. Writing academically is so much easier. Appealing to children is a challenge that is not easily overcome. I had some help though from close friends and family and I continue to be grateful for their input and suggestions.
- Are you already working on a new book?
Yes, I am. I would like to create a series in which children can identify with different characters in order to achieve what they would like. I don’t want to elaborate too much on these as it will spoil the surprise when they are released. The world of science is a quagmire of conflicting opinions, research and experiences, so providing a baseline is extremely important. I would also like to make this a fun experience and produce a cookery book for children with recipes for healthy dishes. Most cookery books aimed at children are for making sweets and treats, so whilst these may be fun, there is no learning involved. Many of the adults I have seen as patients have told me that they have always been overweight or that food was never important enough to focus on what was good for you, just what made you full and kept you quiet. My passion for educating children on healthy lifestyle habits comes from my years of experience as a dietician, diabetes expert and mother. As parents, we tend to dictate certain aspects of growing up and learning. I advise to rather educate on as much as you can, so children will feel empowered to make healthy choices.
Europe Books thanks the author Charlotte Meschede once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside her on the editorial path that led to the publication of her book Let’s Eat & bHealthy with Healthy Hanna. We wish her the best of luck for her future works.
To you, my dear reader, I wish this book will provide you with food for thoughts to reflect upon and will convince you on the importance of healthy food against junk one, starting from when we are really young in order to create a healthy way of living, far from obesity and overweight. The author says in our interview “If kids accept that eating healthy will make just about every aspect of their lives easier and more enjoyable, eventually they’ll want to do what’s right”. I definitely agree with that.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy this very interesting and healthy reading!