Jessie Ware is a sneaky mum. Like many parents, she often resorts to smuggling fruit, veg and other good stuff into her kids’ diets – but can you blame her?

With a tour coming up, a podcast that’s reached dizzying heights of popularity (Table Manners, co-hosted with her own mum, Lennie) and three young children, the London-born singer has a lot on her plate.

"Telling a kid a food is healthy is really boring, so instead I tell my kids what the foods do: ‘Well, that’s gonna make you run faster, that’s gonna make you feel strong’," says Ware, who has a five-year-old daughter and two sons – who’ll turn three and one this summer – with husband Sam Burrows.

"Trying to impose it on the children doesn’t work," she adds – her hair in a messy bun and glasses perching on her nose, seeming relaxed as we talk over Zoom about the ever-tricky topic of getting kids to eat healthily. "When they are allowed to make their own decisions, they feel empowered."

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One way Ware empowers her kids to do this is by letting them serve themselves at mealtimes – well, except her 10-month-old – as "being able to be in control of their meal and feel like they are not being told what to do" helps them eat better, she says.

There’s been a lot of public focus recently on calories and weight – particularly when it comes to diet culture and things like calories being added to menus.

"I don’t want that to be something that’s conscious for my children, I want them to enjoy food," says Ware.

Food is a big theme in her life – she co-authored Table Manners: The Cookbook, published in 2020, and her new book Omelette: Food, Love, Chaos And Other Conversations, came out in February.

But when it comes to cooking for kids, she isn’t one to pile on the pressure. "I respect that lots of people can’t cook from scratch all the time, so it’s more about making food fun and exciting and dynamic. But also not being scared of having some of the old staples, even if it’s a healthy fish finger wrap, if they enjoy that" – and with three under six and a busy career to juggle, sometimes an easy tea is exactly what Ware needs.

She learned a lot about catering for a big brood from her mum, she says. "She brought us up and there were normally six of us, as we always had friends along. She’s a remarkable woman."

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Has she found it harder to manage as her own family has grown?

"Once you get past one [child], it’s just like throwing another one into the mix," she reflects. "We’re a big old gang. It’s so noisy in my house, that I think I’m unaware of it – until we walk down the street and it’s rather silent on the way to school."

The Ware mothers, however, do snacking pretty differently.

"My mum always had a snack cupboard, but it was full of sugar. All the children loved the fact that our house was full of sugar. That’s been really hard for my mum, to adjust to the fact that we don’t give our children as much sugar."

The singer has just partnered with Graze on their #KnowAddedSugar campaign – encouraging people to rethink their snack choices, as they perhaps don’t realise exactly how much hidden sugar has been added to them.

According to Graze research, parents overestimate the amount of added sugar their child can safely consume by at least 50%, and a whopping 84% of toddlers exceed the recommended daily limit for added sugar (based on WHO guidelines).

To help tackle the issue and make it all a bit clearer, Graze have launched a #KnowAddedSugar index in collaboration with the University of Glasgow. Their easy-to-navigate independently verified online resource helps people look up just how much sugar is in foods, so they can make more informed choices.

Ware likes to try new recipes for her kids’ snacks, including low-sugar bakes. "I make these savoury muffins with them. They look really impressive and I can freeze them."

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She is also a big fan of a smoothie. "We make smoothies together in the morning and they think it’s so fun, but little do they know that we’re putting all those good stuff in there! I’ll say, ‘Do you want a dinosaur smoothie?’ and they go, ‘Yeah!’ And then you shove in the spinach."

She says one of her podcast guests – MasterChef star and Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers – inspired some of her interest in home-made, low-sugar eating.

"She’s a trustee for Chefs in Schools, which is an amazing organisation where they’re trying to educate children with great food that’s made directly from farmers and producers," explains Ware.

"She is very good at showing that you can still enjoy foods and not deny yourself. I think that’s something I have really learned through the podcast. She was really inspiring."