Andrew Potato Face

Face Up To Good Habits – Penrith Press

Healthy eating for children article in newspaper Penrith Press

Joel O’Connor, 5, loves to eat eyeballs and his toddler sister enjoys picking bits off a tasty noggin’.

And it’s all encouraged by their mum, Glenmore Park graphic designer Debbie O’Connor.

After finally winning her own life-long weight battle through Weight Watchers, she took on the issue of childhood obesity through an innovative approach to kids’ meals – accompanied by her self-published book Andrew Potato Face.

Ms O’Connor first tried building a face with different coloured vegies for the feature on a dish of mashed potato (the only vegie Joel would eat), but soon realised it wasn’t enough to spark his interest.

So she gave him a name – Andrew Potato Face.

“It’s surprising how much fun eating an eyeball can be when you are a little person,” she said.

“Now, we have all different characters that come to dinner. There’s Carol Couscous, Julia Rice Face and Sammy Sausage.”

Needless to say, daughter Jade, 2, eats her healthy meal without question or protest.

“What sparked me writing the book was the realisation that my bad eating habits were rubbing off on my children, and through Weight Watchers I was learning a far healthier way to live my life, ” she said.

“I wanted my children to learn this too, but in a fun and encouraging way.”

The book wasn’t published until two years after it was penned, after a friend with a sickly child who was a picky eater used it to get her daughter to eat and suggested it might help others.

Ms O’Connor said she hoped sales of the book would replace chocolates, cakes and other sweet treats as school and community group fundraisers.

One preschool had already embraced the book, and the National Health Society supported it.

Mum-of-two tackles fight on fat

Prevent child obesity - early healthy eating

I was interested to see the article in the Star about obesity in our community. I have just published a children’s book, written and illustrated to encourage children to eat healthy meals.

What sparked it was realising that my own former bad eating habits had been rubbing off on my children. Through Weight Watchers I was learning a far healthier way to live. I wanted my children to learn this too, but in a fun way and I am pleased to say that we now all eat a more balanced diet.

I have realised that grassroots education is a start to fighting obesity.