Who are you?

Combining the skills and experience gained in teaching with a passion for food and health I completed a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics with First Class Honours. Areas of special interest include eating behaviours in children. I am combining clinical paediatrics with research, my other passion. I am currently working on the Mealtimes Matter project at The ISSR at UQ looking at how childcare centres in low socioeconomic areas feed children.

What do you do?

I am completing a PhD researching the use of feeding practices in childcare centres through the University of Queensland. My past work as a paediatric dietitian with children with food aversions demonstrated the power of changing how we feed children. I guided families through the process of stepping back from “getting my child to eat” and moving towards providing food experiences that sparked curiosity and genuine motivation to eat. Experiencing food in many different ways was MUCH more powerful than telling children that vegetables are a “healthy choice”. I’ve no doubt that incredible things can be achieved with food experiences at childcare centres and I hope my research goes some way towards empowering educators to be a positive influence on children’s food experiences.   

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

My children…they wake up hungry and raring to go! 

What one thing would you like ALL professionals working with feeding to know?

Parents are the ones who shop, cook for and feed children. In order to address feeding challenges, especially for younger children, we need to work really hard to build parent skills in responsive feeding. The mealtime environment and how we manage mealtimes can make or break a feeding relationship. It’s non-negotiable!

Oh and can I mention a second? Pressure!  Pressure is not just force feeding, it can be encouraging to take a bite, praising for eating, negotiating, reasoning… anything that makes your child feel like you really want them to eat something can absolutely be pressure to some children. The research is very clear that pressure does not lead to great feeding outcomes.

How can folks find out more?

I love to discuss child feeding and share my experiences! Reach out at b.searle@uq.edu.au

Some of Bonnie Searle’s publications: