What’s the difference between snot and broccoli?
You can’t get the kids to eat the broccoli!
We’re all trying to get the kids to eat more veg, right?
“You can’t go play till you’ve finished your carrots. Just try a tiny bit. There’s pudding when you’ve finished your first course.”
Coaxing, rewards, punishments…
We can end up reinforcing the notion that “healthy” foods are really a bit of a chore.
Why kids need a varied diet
Is it surprising that a third of children eat less than one portion of fresh fruit & veg per day? – even though toddlers will put practically anything in their mouths!
It’s a big problem: poor diet creates problems for children and the adults that they will become, from their physical and mental health, to their concentration, behaviour and academic attainment, to their life chances and life expectancy.
Eating a varied diet matters particularly in childhood because tasting foods at a young age leads to a greater likelihood of liking them as an adult: increasing children’s willingness to try foods is a key part of developing a lifelong healthy diet.
Healthy Food Culture
Last week, Washingborough Academy, a Primary school near Lincoln, hosted a meal for teachers, school leaders and school chefs, to explore how to create a healthy food culture in schools – and how to make opportunities for children to discover that they love fruit and vegetables!
As well as a tour of Washingborough’s impressive School Kitchen Garden and polytunnel, participants had a brief experience of the sights and smells of… TastEd.
TastEd – short for Taste Education – is a young charity, with an approach to exploring new foods using all the senses, harnessing children’s (and in this case, adults’) innate curiosity.
Changing the narrative
TastEd lessons create an environment conducive to trying new food; in which tasting is encouraged, but not demanded or rewarded.
TastEd lessons connect growing, cooking and eating; they take place both in the classroom and outdoors. The approach makes links with parents, families, communities and cultures – food is inherently social!
By taking place away from the mealtimes, TastEd lessons take away the expectation that food has to be eaten, and gives children a chance to look at food in new ways: the lessons are fun, exploratory, positive experiences.
For example, an onion might be put into a sock, and a child gets to explore it purely through touch; or the child puts on headphones, to focus on the sound of the crunch of celery in their mouth, and perhaps contrast it with the squelch of a plum.
Taking off the pressure
There are two golden rules of TastEd, which give children a whole new confidence around unfamiliar foods:
- Nobody has to like.
- Nobody has to try.
It takes off all the pressure.
A child who is cautious around new foods gets to explore a fruit or vegetable in all sorts of ways, developing their senses.
They get to talk about it, describe it, and extend their language skills in relation to their experience of food.
Children witness not only respected adults tasting, but also their peers.
And guess what?
Most of them do try it – many of them find that they like it – and even if they don’t, they discover their own taste preferences and gain confidence in trying new foods.
TastEd resources for schools
If you would like to find out more about TastEd, there’s a great video introduction on our website:
TastEd lessons are designed to align with and support the delivery of the English Design & Technology and Nutrition curriculum.
Teachers can register and download free resources from the TastEd website – tasteeducation.com – or contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more.
This article is published in the Lincoln Independent, where we have a weekly column
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