About Better Mealtimes

My name is Claire Burrell and I set up Better Mealtimes to support children to enjoy a variety of food.

My interest in food started when I was diagnosed with cancer in 1995, aged 24. I had Hodgkins Lymphoma, and had treatment over a two-year period which ended in high dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Eating well gave me something positive to focus on that I could control.

In 2004 I was incredibly lucky to become a mum of twin boys, and this was the catalyst for my interest in working with young children.

I first started working with children and food in 2008 through my first business “Food Monsters”. The idea came when I realised that there were lots of activities in Edinburgh for under-fives but none that supported children to eat a variety of food.

I found endless healthy eating recipes and cookbooks, but very little practical information about how to encourage children to eat well. What could I do or say when the boys said “yuck” or “I don’t like that” without tasting what I had offered? Asking them to “just try it” or “have a little bit” didn’t seem to work – and often resulted in them saying “no” even more emphatically.

I decided to work on a new approach that supported both young children and adults at mealtimes: a “win win”!

In 2008 I resigned from my NHS job to create classes that supported young kids to enjoy fruit and veg. Over the next few years I successfully ran classes in several nurseries in Edinburgh. I also worked directly with parents in some workshops and one-to-ones. I realised that my approach was different to how parents and nurseries offered food to under-fives. Experience in working with lots of children showed that it could work effectively on most of them.

By 2014 I had created a new Better Mealtimes approach to offering food. Children were responding positively to group experiences in nurseries, and parents and Early Years practitioners were recognising this. I wanted more children to benefit and started training staff in nurseries to run classes. I’ve now trained Early Years Practitioners in nurseries, Early Years Centres and playgroups. More recently I’ve again worked directly with parents through workshops and one-to-ones, so that they can take a new approach to feeding their child.

My aim is to share the Better Mealtimes approach with as many parents and Early Years Practitioners as possible, and to inspire and support people to continue to use it long-term. Drop me an email if you would like some weekly inspiration to help young kids eat well: claireburrell@bettermealtimes.org.uk