I first heard about The Root Cause when I met Belinda at Australia’s international blogging conference, Problogger this year.

Belinda is a mum, wife and a Health and Wellness Coach from The Root Cause.

When we met, I had an alcohol beverage in my hand while she was happily chewing on a carrot. This chick walks the walk!  The Root Cause is on a mission to transform kids health. Belinda along with her husband Israel and two kids are about to travel across Australia in a fully decked-out bus to educate and inspire families on how to eat healthier.  I was so intrigued by The Root Cause mission that I invited Belinda to share a bit more of their story.

Could you explain a bit about what The Root Cause is and the concept behind it?

The Root Cause is really a mum and dad on a mission to transform children’s health, one lunchbox at a time. We run education programs for children starting from three years and up, parent workshops to help address the barriers to packing healthy lunch boxes and an online eCourse to help parents pack healthy lunch boxes in about 5 minutes. Our education program for children, The Mad Food Science Program™ was featured on Channel 7’s Sunrise last year.

How did your family get involved with The Root Cause?

The Root Cause was really born out of a health situation in our family. In 2010, shortly after our son was born, my husband Israel was diagnosed with postnatal depression [yes, fathers can get it too!] At the time, we chose to see if we could manage his depression without antidepressants. I also started researching other alternatives for managing depression and came across a huge linkage between food, mood, concentration and behaviour. The more I learnt, the more I was thinking “Why isn’t this stuff more widely known?” We started to change what we ate but specifically when we removed gluten, Israel said he felt like a fog had been lifted. We also noticed a change in our then 5yo daughter’s anxiety, and the blue rings she used to have under her eyes disappeared.

What are the 4 main areas of The Root Cause and how we can use them as aids in packing better lunches for our kids?

 1) Our Australian Tour – This will allow you to experience one of our fun and interactive education programs and workshops. If you’d like us to visit your town, please contact us and we’ll se if we can schedule an event in your local area. http://therootcause.com.au/australian-tour/

 2) Our Education programs 

  • The 5 Minute Healthy Lunchbox – a 4-week self-paced online eCourse designed specifically for busy parents who want to pack healthier lunchboxes. The eCourse includes 4 weeks of education modules, menu plans, shopping lists and recipes. Term 4 of the eCourse is open for enrolment from 10th September 2015. Enrol here http://therootcause.com.au/lunchbox/
  • The Mad Food Science Program™ for Children, which was featured on Channel 7’s Sunrise Program last year. The program is customisable for different age groups ranging from 3 – 16.
  • Companion Mad Food Science Parent Workshop – this is designed for parents whose children have participated in the Mad Food Science Program. It helps them with tips on how to continue the conversation about healthy food at home, without a power struggle
  • Other Parent Workshops, such as Is the contents of your child’s lunchbox affecting their mood, behaviour and concentration, One Day Lunchbox Boot Camp, Cooking Demonstrations and more

3) Blog Articles and Recipes on our website – This is all free information to help raise awareness about children’s health and recipes to help you pack healthy lunchboxes. Many of the recipes are refined sugar free and gluten free.

4) Resources Section on our website – This is where we house our Fun For Kids area which includes free printables of activities you can do with your children. These are conversation starters, helping you have fun chats with the kids about healthy food.

Do you have a mission or goal that you would like to achieve while on your travels around Australia?

Our aim is to reach 100,000 people across Australia – parents and children – by running our school-based education programs, in-person events, and online courses.

What tips could you give us mums now with making sure we pack a healthy nutritious lunch box?

Great question! The key is to firstly acknowledge that wherever you are right now is perfect. No-one sets out to do the wrong thing by their kids, and we all do the best we can with the knowledge we have. So, start with small changes and gradually improve what you’re doing each week.

Here are my main points I use every day when I pack lunchboxes for our whole family.

  1. Make the lunchbox colourful by packing a rainbow of fruit and vegetables
  2. Pack at least one each of
    • Fruit
    • Vegetable
    • Good Protein source such as chicken, eggs, tuna, roast meats, legumes (e.g. chickpeas)
    • A healthy snack such as a homemade muffin, muesli bar, cake (only one of these, and ideally not every day)
    • Wholegrain (if you’re eating grains)
    • Dairy (if you’re eating dairy)
  3. Ensure the lunchbox contains a mix of good quality protein, fats and carbs. Packaged food rarely contains good quality fats or proteins, and is largely made up of empty carbs.
  4. Ask yourself: “Would I be happy to eat this?” and “Would this keep my kids full until their meal time?”

Low fat doesn’t always mean low sugar. What are some of the biggest mistakes parents make when packing lunch boxes?

You are so right here. As soon as you see low fat, you need to ask yourself what have they added to this product to make it taste better now they have removed the fat. Inevitably this will be sugar, often salt too, and possibly some sort of additive or preservative to enhance flavour.

Here are my top 3 tips for overcoming common mistakes and improving the packing of lunchboxes:

  1. Minimise packaged food – If you do include a packet, ensure you have read the ingredients to make sure there is not too much sugar (4g = 1 tspn, the World Health Organisation recommendation recommends adults should limit sugar to 6 tspns, and so it is being said children should be limited to 3-4 tspns) and checked any additives and preservatives to ensure they do not have the potential for creating behavioural problems, hyperactivity and other mood related symptoms. This will all have a bearing on your child’s ability to concentrate in class.
  1. Pack More Protein and complex carbohydrates – Protein is so important for keeping tummies full and for the growth and development of muscles and tissues. Unfortunately many lunch boxes do not include much protein at all. This means lunchboxes are usually made up of foods that are carbohydrates and fats, which come in the form packet foods or a sandwich. Carbohydrates are our body’s main energy source, but if they are simple carbohydrates such as chips, biscuits or cakes, then this energy is likely to only last them for the time they are running around the playground. By the time they go back to the classroom, their energy is almost gone.

How can someone get in contact with you if they want to learn more about The Root Cause?

Our website is The Root Cause and our main telephone number is 1300 KIDS FOOD.

Belinda can be reached directly on 0401 649 289 or email [email protected] and Israel can be contacted directly on 0413 708 432 or email [email protected].

And that’s a wrap!

We’re so grateful to Belinda for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us and we are very excited to announce that Belinda will be sharing some healthy recipes on Mum’s Pantry regularly!

Make sure to visit The Root Cause site and social media for more recipes and healthy ideas to feed your family. 

Face Book: The Root Cause

Instagram: The Root Cause

Pinterest: The Root Cause

Twitter: The Root Cause

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