Last week I spoke about getting kids engaged in cooking and eating healthy food- just don’t mention the word ‘healthy’ because it’s too long term when you talk about nutrition linked to lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes. Instead let’s talk about eating well for enjoying food together with friends and family. Make cooking and selection of recipes real for young people: choose recipes that are fun, easy to make and achievable.  Such recipes are prepared in schools every day taught by teachers throughout Australia using great  resources such as  books such as Start Cooking or The Food Book

In this post I talk about the evidence-based models that help to engage young people and get them involved in making food that they enjoy eating and sharing food with their friends and family.  Thanks too to all the home economics teachers out there and to the mums and dads who allow their kids to get down and messy in the kitchen to practise the food skills they learn in schools and at home.

The Satter Feeding Dynamics Model (Satter EM 2008) is an adjunct to the Eating Competence Model (see A new take on healthy eating:Part One)  and consists of a series of recommendations (rather than a conceptual model) for the adults, the teachers and parents, to take responsibility for the type of food served and when and where the food is to be served.  Children take responsibility for how much and whether to eat the food served by adults.  Based on the principles outlined in the Eating Competence Model (Satter E 2007), the recommendations made in the Feeding Dynamics Model include practical guidelines for teachers and other food providers such as canteen managers, to support school-aged children in their choice and consumption of a wide selection of food.

Satter’s models have particular relevance to my research, with their links to classroom food education programs and their emphasis on providing individuals with the meal planning and cooking skills to be able to meet their food needs.  Furthermore, their aim to encourage the enjoyment of eating by making it a positive, joyful and intrinsically rewarding experience (Satter E 2007) makes it an appropriate fit with the goals of teachers in schools and aligns with the recommendations made by other researchers (Warash BG, Fitch C et al. 2003, Contento IR, Koch PA et al. 2010, Vidgen H and Gallegos 2012).

Further recommendations

Beyond the initial four recommendations made by the food skills experts in my research,  teachers’ used many different resources to enrich their students’ learning and make the learning process more enjoyable.  This primary goal nominated by the teacher respondents was to connect with their students and provide opportunities for them to enjoy and make food in a positive and supportive learning environment.

The teachers’ goals for their programs influenced their teaching practice.  Their main priority was to give their students the learning and practice opportunities to make healthy meals skilfully and in a fun way that developed their confidence.  These goals aligned with the enjoyment of food integral to Satter’s model (Satter E, 2007b) and the use of confidence as a measure of food skills acquisition in skill-based programs in both school and community settings (Larson NI, Story M et al. 2006, Contento IR, Koch PA et al. 2010, Engler-Stringer R 2010, Rocha Leal FM, Oliveira BM et al. 2011, Caraher M, Seeley A et al. 2013, Children’s Food Trust 2013).

The teachers recognised the importance of motivating young people to eat well with easy to prepare recipes that they enjoyed eating and making with their friends.  Highlighting the recommendations made by nutrition educators (Contento IR, Randell JS et al. 2002, Veuglers PJ and Fitzgerald AL 2005, Contento IR 2008, Contento IR, Koch PA et al. 2010), teachers knew how to engage their students by allowing them to work in groups but providing opportunities for them to work independently to practise time management and task scheduling skills in simulated home settings.  These strategies exemplify the teachers’ implicit understanding of their students and the many ways they connect with them and their world.

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