Guiding Principles

These guiding principles will help you support students to develop a positive relationship with food and their bodies.  Promoting a healthy relationship with food and bodies helps create an inclusive learning environment within the school community.

1. 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.
  • Reflect and recognize the influence of diet culture on how we perceive food.
  • Celebrate food’s connection to family, community, culture, tradition, history, and the land.
  • 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. 
  • Provide hands-on learning experiences so students can see, smell, touch, cook, taste, and learn about a variety of food. 
  • Encourage students to explore food with openness and curiosity.

2. Respect roles and responsibilities related to food and eating

Parent/Guardian/Caregiver’s role:  What food to provide

  • Trust that families are doing their best to provide food for their children with the resources they have available.
  • Recognize that most students do not have control over the food they eat. Adult roles include grocery shopping, meal planning, and food selection.

School/Educator’s role:  When and where students eat

  • Ensure regular meal and snack breaks. Allow enough time and suitable space for eating at school.
  • Save food and nutrition education for the classroom rather than at mealtimes. Be neutral and do not comment on what, whether, and how much students are eating. 

Child/Student’s role:  Whether and how much they eat

  • Trust students when they say or show that they are full or they are hungry for more. 
  • Respect students’ decisions, including eating food in the order they choose.

3. 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.
  • Think critically about the influence of diet culture and how its marketing affects body image and self-esteem.  
  • Challenge messages about body ideals, appearance norms, and weight-based stereotypes. 
  • Role model and teach students to not comment on weight or appearance. Focus on internal attributes (e.g., creativity, kindness) instead of external ones. 
  • Address weight-based comments and bullying.

Inspired by Teach Food First, BC, Healthy Relationship with Food, Alberta and Ways Educators can Promote a Healthy Relationship with Food and Nuton’s Four Ingredients.