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Schools can play an important role in shaping children’s eating habits. Schools can support children to learn valuable nutrition knowledge, practice key food and life skills (e.g., cooking and gardening), and develop a healthy relationship with food.

Learn how your school can support children to become healthy eaters:

Nurturing Healthy Eaters in Elementary Schools

Parents & Caregivers
decide what foods are available to pack.

School
decides when and where  students eat.

Student
decides what and how much to eat from what’s available.

Provide a Positive Eating Environment

  • Ensure students have enough time to eat within the school’s set meal and snack times.
  • Limit distractions such as screen time.
  • Talk with children in casual conversation. Save nutrition education for the classroom instead of at mealtimes.

Respect Natural Hunger & Fullness Cues

  • Allow students to control their own intake – avoid telling them how much to eat or suggesting “one more bite.”
  • Allow students to eat food in any order they choose – no need to finish one food before another.
  • Trust and respect students when they say or signal they are full or still hungry.

Build Trust with Students & Families

  • Respect that many factors influence what foods families provide and that children have different health needs.
  • Allow students to eat food items sent from home unless the food relates to an allergy. Students need to trust that their caregivers can feed them properly and teachers need to trust this as well.
  • Refer families to appropriate community resources and reliable nutrition information such as Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000), Unlockfood.ca and Canada.ca/FoodGuide.

Healthy eating is more than the food you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat.

Canada’s Food Guide

Teach Nutrition in a Positive Way

  • Focus on the benefits of fuelling the mind and body with a variety of food.
  • Keep all messages positive. Avoid negative/fearbased statements like “that food is not healthy.”
  • Create practical opportunities to learn about, see, smell, touch, grow, cook, and try a variety of food.
  • Focus on behaviours, such as regular meals, sleep and physical activity to feel good, not for weight control or appearance.
  • Avoid weighing students, using weight tables or charts, or calorie counting activities.
  • When using food in classroom lessons or school activities, choose foods from Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Avoid using any food as a reward.

Promote Positive Body Image

  • Be mindful of what you say and avoid sharing personal views about food, dieting and body weight.
  • Teach about natural body diversity. Each person’s body is different, and we should respect, accept and celebrate these differences!
  • Teach students how to look at media messages and stereotypes critically. There is no ‘ideal’ body and all bodies are worthy.  

Nurturing Healthy Eaters in Secondary Schools

Parents & Caregivers
decide what foods are available to pack.

School
decides when and where  students eat.

Student
decides what and how much to eat from what’s available.

Provide a Positive Eating Environment

  • Provide eating environments around the school that encourage students to eat together and use mealtimes as a time to connect.
  • Have casual conversation with students. Save nutrition education for the classroom instead of at mealtimes (for example, when eating together in a family studies class).
  • Encourage students to limit screen time to be mindful of their eating habits.

Respect Natural Hunger & Fullness Cues

  • Allow students to control their own intake and avoid pressuring students to eat a particular food.
  • Avoid talking about dieting, restricting food intake or specifying portion sizes.
  • Remind students that they are still growing and that they need to eat enough to support their activity and growth.
  • Trust and respect students when they say or signal they are full or still hungry.

Build Trust with Students & Families

  • Respect that many factors influence what foods students eat and that students have different health needs.
  • Avoid commenting or making judgements about students’ food choices.
  • Refer families to appropriate community resources and reliable nutrition information such as Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000), Unlockfood.ca and Canada.ca/FoodGuide.

Healthy eating is more than the food you eat. It is also about where, when, why and how you eat.

Canada’s Food Guide

Teach Nutrition in a Positive Way

  • Focus on the benefits of fuelling the mind and body with a variety of food.
  • Keep all messages positive. Avoid negative/fear-based statements like “that food is not healthy.”
  • Remind students that healthy eating is an overall pattern over time; no one food or meal defines our eating habits.
  • Create practical opportunities to learn about, see, smell, touch, grow, cook, and try a variety of food.
  • Focus on behaviours such as regular meals and snacks, sleep, and physical activity to feel good, not for weight control or appearance.
  • Avoid weighing students, using weight tables or charts, or calorie counting activities.
  • When using food in classroom lessons or school activities, choose foods from Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Avoid using any food as a reward.

Promote Positive Body Image

  • Be mindful of what you say and avoid sharing personal views about food, dieting and body weight.
  • Teach about natural body diversity. Each person’s body is different, and we should respect, accept and celebrate these differences!
  • Teach students how to look at media messages and stereotypes critically. There is no ‘ideal’ body and all bodies are worthy.

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Last modified: 
Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 9:45am