Guiding Principles [v2]

These guiding principles are the foundation of our website content. The latest evidence has shown that by applying these principles to teaching and learning environments you can foster inclusive and positive relationships with food, eating, and bodies.

Teach and talk about food and eating in a positive way

  • Recognize how food supports more than just our physical health. Reflect on how food also supports our social, cognitive, spiritual, and mental well-being.  
  • Respect diversity related to food. Acknowledge that many factors influence the foods students eat including access to food, taste, texture, preferences, allergies, and culture.
  • Celebrate food’s connection to family, community, culture, tradition, history, and the land.
  • Use food-neutral language. Call foods by their name (e.g., broccoli, hamburger, cookie, apple) instead of using categories like “good/bad”, “healthy/unhealthy”, “every day/sometimes” or “junk food”.
  • Encourage eating with others to foster social connections and communication skills.  
  • Allow students to choose a variety of foods and flavours that they enjoy. All food has value. 
  • Emphasize how behaviours like physical activity, sleep, hydration, and regular meals and snacks can help students feel good. 
  • Avoid assigning activities to students that track calories, food intake or weight. 
  • Avoid using food as a reward or punishment.

Approach food with curiosity

  • Encourage children to explore food with curiosity by asking questions.  
  • Provide hands-on learning experiences so students can learn about, see, smell, touch, cook, and taste a variety of food. 
  • Use words like crunchy, spicy or round to describe a food’s colour, shape, smell, flavour, and texture.
  • Offer a variety of opportunities to learn about food without pressure or judgement. Let students decide if they want to try a new food.
  • Engage students in identifying, growing, harvesting, and preparing foods.

Respect roles and responsibilities related to food and eating

Parent/caregiver’s role: What food to provide
School/Educator’s role: When and where students eat
Child/Student’s role: Whether and how much they eat
  • Trust that families are doing their best to pack food with the resources they have available. 
  • Recognize that most students don’t have control over the food they eat. Remember that many students are not yet responsible for adult feeding roles like grocery shopping, meal planning and food selection.  
  • Ensure regular meal and snack breaks. Allow enough time and suitable space for eating at school. 
  • Use meals to connect with others and have pleasant non-food related conversations. Save food and nutrition education for the classroom rather than at mealtimes.
  • Approach conversations with students with respect and curiosity. Be neutral and do not comment on what, whether and how much students are eating. 
  • Trust students when they say or show that they are full or they are hungry for more. 
  • Remove pressure from food. Respect students’ decisions, including eating food in the order they choose.

Promote body inclusivity

  • Reflect on your attitudes, beliefs and biases about body size, eating patterns, and health. Be mindful of what you say and avoid sharing personal views about food, dieting and body weight.
  • Reflect on the influence of marketing, social media, and diet culture on body image and/or disordered eating practices. Teach students how to look at media messages and stereotypes critically.
  • Challenge messages about ideal bodies and weight-based stereotypes. Teach about natural body differences and how to respect and accept them. 
  • Role model and teach students not to comment on weight, height, or appearance. Focus on internal attributes (e.g., creativity, kindness) instead of external ones. 
  • Address weight-based comments and bullying.