Skip navigation
When Zara Imtiaz*, 33, happened to overhear a conversation about the Cooking for a Better Start project, she knew that this was just what she needed to improve her youngest son’s eating habits.

Zara’s story

I was sitting in the waiting room of my four year old son’s school, when I overheard a lady telling other people about a programme that offers practical skills and knowledge around low cost, healthy meals: Cooking for a Better Start. At the time, I was really worried about my youngest son, aged 18 months. He was not eating properly and seemed to be playing and messing with his food rather than eating it.

I wasn’t sure about the portion sizes that I should be giving my children

I also wasn’t sure about the portion sizes that I should be giving my children. In addition I was feeling bloated a lot of the time myself so I thought I would give Cooking for a Better Start a go! I was hoping that I could generally improve the whole family’s diet. The sessions are very useful and informative. We learned all about the food labels on everything at the supermarket: what all the colours mean and how you can figure out what is higher in fat and sugar. As a result I now always check the colours and choose healthier options. The practical cooking sessions were really enjoyable. We learned how to make all sorts of dishes such as healthy stews that were packed with nutrition and are a healthy alternative, and home-made fish pie. My favourite recipe is the sweet potato stew, which is a one-pot dish – I cook it all of the time for my family - my husband and youngest son love it!

I have a lot more confidence in producing healthier meals

We were also shown how to make healthy puddings - our family favourites are the healthy flapjack and a pear crumble. Both have less fat and less sugar but taste just as lovely. It just goes to show that sweet things can be made into healthy alternatives. Thanks to the course, I have a lot more confidence in producing healthier meals. My youngest son is eating a lot better. When I go shopping I really focus on the nutritional side and my trolley has healthy food in it and a minimal amount of chocolate!

I am now eating more than I did before but I am eating the right things

I'm no longer feeling bloated, in fact I am now eating more than I did before but I am eating the right things: no sugar and no oil. I feel very different and I am not getting as many migraines now that I have cut down on chocolate. I recommend that parents and carers do the course; whatever condition they are in. They should know about the levels of sugar and fat in foods and what the healthy alternatives are. There was so much information and it wasn’t too long a course – in fact I enjoyed it so much, I wish there had been more weeks! *names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

About Cooking for a Better Start

The course is for families in the Better Start Bradford area with a child under the age of four. Participants attend free practical group cooking sessions over six weeks and gain the skills and knowledge to cook low-cost, healthy food at home. Sessions are small with a maximum of six participants and everyone takes home a cooking related gift. Find out more about Cooking for a Better Start