On the Web and social media, there is endless information about food. But it is sometimes contradictory. With such an abundance of information, vigilance is required before introducing students to the subject.
In the early 1990s, sociologist Claude Fischler suggested a term to describe this principle. He coined the term “dietary cacophony” to describe the confusion linked to the abundance of information about food. Today, the term “food cacophony” is more common, but the problem remains the same.
Reliable information and a positive message
With all that information, vigilance is required before talking about food with students. The key to success? Share messages that are based on scientific data, rather than personal beliefs and practices.
But how do you distinguish what’s true from what’s false?
When you consult information, you could, for example, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the authors clearly identified?
- Are they qualified (e.g., have they received recognized professional training, are they members of a professional college or a credible organization)?
- Is it someone’s opinion or facts from credible sources (Dionne, 2008)?
If you work in a school setting, you can access free tools designed by Registered Dietitians. Visit our Educational Resources section to view our offerings.
Once you have confirmed that the information is credible, how do you convey the message effectively to students? By choosing the right words and positive messages to address the children.
A positive message :
- Promotes desirable rather than restricted behaviour
- Emphasizes positive rather than negative consequences
For example, it is better to emphasize foods that students should eat more often, rather than those they should restrict. With this positive approach, it will be easier for children to retain the message or adopt the desirable behaviour.
Learning adapted to the level of knowledge
At school, the pedagogical framework is based on the Québec Education Program (QEP). For the promotion of health and well-being at school, ÉKIP is the go-to resource. This reference framework helps guide learning activities on healthy eating so that they are adapted to students’ grade level, while contributing to student perseverance and educational success.
One of the takeaways is that the same subject can be covered from one year to the next. The important thing is that it is deepened and addressed from different angles to maintain students’ interest.
The second takeaway is that healthy eating can be incorporated into other subjects. For example, science can be a great way to talk about the role of food in the human body.
Want to give it a try? Our team offers resources (videos and activities) about the human body (French only). As a bonus, all the material is free and was designed in collaboration with teachers.
Digital platforms surely contribute to food cacophony and nutritional misinformation. However, they can also be excellent resources for teachers.
As complements to other more traditional approaches, they can facilitate knowledge acquisition. Their interactive and diversified content enables an innovative pedagogical approach (Gouvernement du Québec, 2020). And because they are interactive, these tools increase student participation in activities (Lagarde, 2012)!
Want to try a new digital format? Our team offers Réaction : quête active sur l’alimentation, online educational games to get students moving at school (French only).
Healthy eating is a broad topic. It can be approached from multiple angles, in the context of different subjects. But it can also be explored using a variety of tools, including digital ones.
With the right resources, it is easier to tackle the subject at regular intervals. Not everything needs to be crammed into Nutrition Month in March. Remember, food is a tasty topic all year round!