My name is Jo, and I am mum to 5 wonderful kids: my daughter, aged 21, and four boys aged 6, 5, 3 and 6 months. I have worked in schools since the age of 18 – both primary and secondary – starting as a teaching assistant and working my way up to a teacher of music and drama. Being around kids so much, my own and my students, I have really come to understand the importance of a nutritious diet for children – not just including the healthy foods that help their brains and bodies develop properly, but also cutting out the unhealthy ones that can lead to illness or behavioural problems.
I was born in East London and had Emily when I was just 16. The shock of young pregnancy and motherhood still remains, yet seems like another lifetime. Even then I was aware of not giving her too many crisps, chocolate or sweets, as it felt like people were inexplicably bombarding me with unhealthy food for her. But I had never really thought deeply about the food I was feeding her – not until she was about three or four years of age, and I watched Jamie Oliver’s programme about healthier eating for children in schools. It was highlighting what was really in chicken nuggets and many other children’s processed foods. That night, I emptied my freezer, threw out the junk food from the cupboard and started making healthier meals. But it wasn’t easy.