Teachers and Parents,
It’s that time of year again! We’re approaching the start of the school year, which can bring about the parent lunch box shame beat ups and teacher bashing for policing them. This not only fills our social media feeds but consumes our own thoughts and feelings about food. It either challenges our inner core or embraces the knowledge and wisdom we already have.
Today, I invite you to reflect on the messages, advice and health propaganda of packing a healthy lunch box. The ideals, standards, rules and guidelines designed to help, support and even alienate. As a community with a common goal, why are we so divided?
How can we open a dialogue between parents and teachers to support healthy eating long term? What solution-focused practices can the school and home share for successful eating?
Teachers and parents are a partnership in this journey and at the centre of this is the child.
Let’s tackle some evidence-informed ways of teaching healthy eating together. One food exposure, one meal and one lunch box at a time.
Connect with food
See each encounter as an exposure and experience. Keep it positive and pressure free. The learning part is about being comfortable with food. Think on a sensory level first, before any of the eating happens. Recognise that this journey is different for every child. Connect through shared meals, social gatherings, cultural festivals and celebrations. We also eat better when we gather together.
There are so many benefits of eating together. It not only improves social relationships but also language development and self-esteem. Healthy eating habits are soaked up by osmosis. It’s an opportunity to model eating a variety of foods. Parents, teachers and other school staff have many opportunities to do this each day.
Learn and grow together
Let’s rethink the lunch box letters and notes from both sides. They’re not helpful for teacher and parent relationships. And they poorly communicate the broader complex issues of healthy eating. They only serve to foster food-centric thinking and divide rather than unite. Respectful conversations and collaboration win every time. They keep the relationship central. Learning together supports the emotional wellbeing of children and promotes an inclusive healthy community.
Create and innovate
To provide students with a comprehensive understanding of food, we must innovate and create. Learn about the mission to support healthy eating without an overload of nutrition information. Food can be explored through so many wonderful ways. Forget the food group activities and opt for more contemporary practical hands-on experiments. Prepare tasting dishes and use the five sensory properties to analyse food. Go on a local community food scavenger hunt or investigate ways to prevent food waste.
Learning communities that work together, thrive together. Unified in partnership, parents and teachers can have the same outcomes. Healthy eaters long term. Let’s make lunch box policing a thing of the past. We can all learn and grow by fostering healthy relationships with food on an united front.