Teaching about food and nutrition

This webpage provides educators with tips, resources, and lesson plans for providing positive, student-centered food and nutrition education that aligns with the BC curriculum.

Learning to enjoy a variety of foods takes time and practice. Students benefit from many opportunities to build their comfort and skills with food at school, in a pressure-free environment. Food is also a powerful teaching tool with the potential for many cross-curricular connections.

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Information for educators

Tips

It’s great to see that so many educators are interested in teaching about food and nutrition! The following tips and resources support educators with using a student-centered approach to promote long-term, positive eating attitudes and behaviors.

  • Build food skills and curiosity about food. Describe food using the senses. Explore where food comes from, how it gets to our plates, and the different ways it can be prepared and eaten.
  • Apply a trauma-informed approach. Offer neutral exposure to food, without pressure. Pressure includes persuading or rewarding student to choose or avoid certain foods “to be healthy”. Students have diverse experiences and home contexts that will impact their food access, preferences, culture, supports, and nutritional needs.
  • Talk about all food neutrally. Avoid labeling foods as “good or bad”, “healthy or unhealthy” or “sometimes or everyday” foods. These labels do not help students accept foods and can lead to feelings of guilt or shame.
  • Hold off on teaching about nutrition until middle or high school. Abstract concepts such as nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, etc.) are difficult for young learners to understand or apply. 
  • Talk about food as more than fuel or nutrients. Explore how food provides pleasure and connects to the self, family, history, culture, nature, community and food systems.
  • Use the concept of “variety” to teach about food in an inclusive way. There are many different ways to eat that can give us what we need to grow, learn and play.
  • Aim to be a positive role model. Show students that you enjoy a variety of foods. Consider how your school can create a supportive food and eating environment.
  • Avoid calorie counting activities, food tracking assignments, or talking about weight loss diets. These activities can be unsafe for students and do not support positive eating attitudes and behaviors.
  • Support listening and trusting our bodies to eat what we need. Canada’s food guide no longer recommends numbers of serving of food groups. It promotes mindful eating and enjoying a variety of food.
  • Promote critical inquiry. Support students to spot diet fads, find reliable sources of nutrition information, critically think about food marketing, and make connections between food and social justice issues.

Learn more

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Resources

Featured resources

Webinars

Displays

To order these displays please contact the NH Population Health Nutrition team at PopHthNutrition@NorthernHealth.ca or call 250-631-4236.

Food safety

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Educator workshops

Northern Health Population Health dietitian can offer tailored workshops for educators, schools, and school districts on a variety of topics including food literacy, nutrition education and body image. For more information email: PopHthNutrition@Northernhealth.ca 

Virtual nutrition education workshops for BC K-12 teachers are also offered by Registered Dietitians at BC Dairy Association (BCDA). Educators who have completed a workshop can apply for a mini food grant to purchase food for their classroom.

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Lessons and activities

Food and nutrition

Kindergarten and primary grades

Books

Middle and secondary grades

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Food allergies

For more information about food allergy prevention and management at school see the school food environments page.

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Food growing activities
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Hands-on food activities
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Indigenous knowledge and perspectives

Books

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Local and sustainable food systems
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Media literacy and body image

Books

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Mindful eating
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Social justice
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