I'm Emily, a mother of four and an advocate for all the benefits that come from family mealtimes. I am passionate about helping children and their families to enjoy a range of foods to support a happy and healthy lifestyle.
I live with my family in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. It is most famous for being a wine region; as wine is generally paired with food there is a robust food culture here and we love nothing better than to spend our weekends with family and friends enjoying great food.
I am a Speech Pathologist, with a special interest in all things feeding related. I have spent my professional life helping premature babies through to 90+ year old’s feed safely and more enjoyably in a variety of settings (hospital, clinic and community). Like many of us personal experience ignited a passion to help others with the knowledge and experience I have gained over years.
I have four children. Two have food allergies, one has coeliac disease and the fourth, who can now eat anything was “Failure to Thrive” as an infant. He had difficulties with sucking and swallowing and oral feeding skills as he transitioned to solids. He had several choking incidents as a child and as a result developed fussy eating as he only chose foods he knew he could safely swallow. As I followed these feeding journeys and supported my children with the emotions and responsibilities of food choices, and their short and long term consequences it seemed natural for my professional life to steer towards feeding rather than the more traditional route of communication for a speech pathologist.
I now spend my days helping families to support extremely picky eaters. Many of the children in my clinic have added complexities such as a syndrome that may impact their muscle control, a neurodiversity such as Autism or sensory processing disorder or complex medical backgrounds including being nasogastrically fed, suffering severe reflux as infants or respiratory issues.
I started noticing how often a simple social conversation about what we do at work seemed to result in a long conversation about what I did. In so many situations whom ever I was talking to would have a child, friend or relative who was struggling with eating an appropriate range of foods. It always evoked emotion from the speaker. Feeding a fussy eater is clearly something lots in the community struggle with and not just parents of children with added medical or developmental complexities. It is stressful and emotional for parents and often the hardest part of parenting that child.
Food, meals and nutrition are important. We should devote time and energy to teaching these skills to our children. Many of us feel swimming lessons, sports, music etc are really important to our children’s development and growth. We spend hours running them to practices and plenty of money on tuition and equipment. How much time do we take teaching them to eat? How often do we take an extra five minutes in our busy lives to stop and teach them how to peel the carrot themselves or cut an apple safely, warm something up themselves let alone plan and cook a meal. These are lifelong skills and, mastering them will enhance every aspect of their being. Appropriate nutrition will obviously enhance their physical health but people who can enjoy eating meals gain benefits far broader than nutrition. Food brings us together, it connects us. It is over meals we often develop relationships. So many varied traditions around the world are based on sharing and preparing foods. Happy eaters who enjoy wholesome mealtimes are nourished in all aspects of physical and mental health.
- Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist
- Bachelor of Science (Speech Pathology) Flinders University