Five Pitfalls for Food Education (and why TastEd is Different)creative66
Like many of the best laid plans, lessons in healthy eating can go awry.
Here are some of the ways food education has gone wrong in the past and an explanation of why TastEd is different.
- Food education is too theoretical and not enough about food. It is all very well teaching a child about 5-a-day at a logical rational level. But the big question is, do they actually choose to eat 5-a-day in real life? Unlike the food education of the past, TastEd focuses less on theory and more on direct – and delicious – interactions with ingredients.
- Food education is not enough about pleasure. Most lessons on healthy eating have a strong air of ‘should’ about them and pay no attention to a child’s likes and dislikes. Yet nutrients only count when someone chooses to eat them. TastEd lessons are directly aimed at preference change and encourage the children to talk about the foods that give them pleasure.
- Food education is too boring. Too many lessons in healthy eating have been uninspired. We believe that children learn best about food when it is less like a lecture and more like a fun game of exploration.
- If it is done wrong, food education can promote a disordered relationship with food. Too many lessons on healthy eating fall into the trap of demonising certain food groups such as fats and sugars. This can leave children feeling guilty and confused about their food choices and about their own bodies. TastEd by contrast adopts a non-judgmental attitude to food. We do not talk to the children about obesity or about fat grams. Rather, we encourage them to trust their own senses and to realise that they have the ability to widen their own palate. The point of the lessons is to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for children to explore their own tastes.
- Food education teaches children to run before they can walk. The main focus of school lessons on food has been cooking (and sometimes gardening too). There is nothing wrong with this; most children desperately need more knowledge of cookery. But before children can learn how to cook they need to learn how to eat. TastEd lessons pare it right back down to the fundamental sensory knowledge of vegetables and fruits. Teachers at Washingborough Academy report that a child who has received TastEd lessons is then able to engage much more fully with cooking activities.