Teaching about food and nutrition is another aspect of food literacy. It is helpful to consider in advance strategies for addressing topics that may arise when teaching healthy eating that need to be handled with sensitivity.
Connecting around Food during COVID-19: Nutrition Education Home and School Learning Opportunities (30 min presentation, 30 min discussion) *Note: there was a land acknowledgement shared, in recognition of the unceded lands we were sharing from, which was not captured in the webinar recording.
New resource coming soon: An educator's toolkit for exploring Canada's food guide - Teach Food First lessons align with the BC curriculum, are grade-specific and age-appropriate and were developed with equity and culturally inclusive considerations.
Find tips on how to apply eight popular topics relating to the 2019 Canada's food guide in Top Questions about Canada's Food Guide in the school setting.
The following are some key messages and tips:
Modeling healthy eating behaviours (e.g. bring in lunches/snacks prepared at home that reflect comfort with a variety of foods).
Speaking positively about food and eating habits without expressing personal food preferences.
Dispelling assumptions based on stereotypes (e.g., thin students eat healthy, overweight students do not).
Consider that growing children have different nutritional needs (including requirements for calories, calcium and dietary fat), compared to adults.
Include weight and size discrimination when talking about bullying.
Find out what to do if you suspect a student is
struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder.
Emphasize that students can be healthy at a variety of body sizes and shapes (e.g., display images and use resources that show individuals with different body types). Students who feel positive about their bodies find it easier to make decisions that promote good health.
Avoid making assumptions that an underweight or overweight student is not eating healthy food and requires an intervention or that an average weight child is necessarily eating healthy food.
Focus on health rather than weight, acknowledging that natural body development includes increases in weight and body fat.
Watch for, discuss and address issues related to weight-based teasing/bullying or weight bias.
Focus on teaching decision-making skills that can optimize healthy behaviours (e.g., media literacy, challenging peer norms about weight and shape, stress management).
Consider curriculum links with school nutrition programs such as Farm to School BC, or take a trip to a local farm, forest, or shore.
Connect students with an Elder through your school district’s Indigenous Education team or with a farmer to learn about growing, harvesting, and preparing local or traditional foods.
Recognize inequities in our society and
explore poverty reduction strategies with students.
Consider all the above strategies to encourage children to feel positive about eating and develop skills to enjoy a variety of foods. Refrain from classifying foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy”, learning about food labelling, and nutrients (calories, fat, vitamins, etc.) as it can produce the opposite effect and encourage black-and-white thinking.