School's out and parents are under the cosh to provide the obligatory sugar-based snacks and trips to McDonald's.

We fear that if we don't toe the line and give in to the latest rubbish masquerading as children's food, our children will end up either as obsessive control freaks or sad social outcasts.

But if we allow them to become addicted to the artificially sweetened, highly salted assortment of beautifully refined junk, we could be faced with the Incredible Hulk.

Some hulks turn out to be aggressive and moody whereas others just remain lethargic and depressed. Either way, they are unlikely to be very healthy.

Susan Clark understands this dilemma perfectly. One of the UK's top health writers and a concerned mother, she has put together a guide for parents who want to make healthier choices for their families.

Her book What Really Works For Kids offers sensible advice on how to avoid the daily food battles and suggests recipes to wean kids on to nutritious yet tasty fare.

A useful A-Z section guides you through the bewildering maze of supplements and natural remedies for all sorts of kiddie complaints, from bedwetting to verrucas.

She also explores more complex issues such as vaccination, learning disorders and behavioural problems.

Intrigued by Susan's breadth of knowledge, I asked her just how she does it all.

Although Susan is not a practitioner, she holds a science degree and her extensive training in journalism has been invaluable in uncovering the cutting-edge scientific research we seldom get to hear about.

"When my daughter goes to school, I shut myself away in the shed at the bottom of the garden and write," says Susan. "But I also read a lot, do much painstaking research and talk to scientists."

Her interest in natural alternatives began after recovering from a lengthy hospital stay with the help of a good nutritionist.

Now brimming with energy, she finances her own trips abroad to find out more about the healing properties of the plants she describes in her popular What's The Alternative column for the Sunday Times.

On a recent excursion to the Amazon, for instance, Susan discovered more about the wealth of irreplaceable resources hidden deep in the rainforest.

Most of it is as yet untapped and is likely to remain so because half the rainforest will have completely disappeared in 30 years' time.

One of the main uses of cleared rainforest land is for the grazing of cattle which is eventually served up in fast- food restaurants.

Fast food is no doubt one of the contributing factors to why more than a million British children are clinically overweight.

Most of them will be largely unaware of the value of natural resources being destroyed for their convenience rather than their good health.

It is up to us parents to provide better alternatives, even if they might appear less convenient.

What Really Works For Kids by Susan Clark is published by Bantam Press at £10.99.