Healthy eating

Teacher training

From regularly reviewing and evaluating your healthy eating lessons to staying up-to-date with current educational thinking and best practice, there are lots of ways to improve how you plan and teach healthy eating.

Be in the know

Make sure you know the key healthy eating topics to be covered. Keep up with the current information in these areas: 

  • importance of a balanced diet
  • where food comes from
  • food labels and making choices
  • portion sizes
  • food safety

Keep up-to-date with sites like Food — a fact of life and the British Nutrition Foundation — check out their Facts behind the headlines.

Get everyone involved

The importance of delivering the healthy eating message goes beyond the classroom, so try to get everyone involved.

  • work together — all teachers have a role to play in fostering a great whole-school food culture and can use cross-curricular opportunities to share healthy eating messages.
  • engage — involve cooks and catering staff and make sure lunch-time sets a good example.
  • communicate — share the importance of children learning about food at all school levels to teachers, school staff and parents.

Find out how you can involve the whole school.

Plan for success

Good planning ensures the right skills are covered for your students' level, and helps children enjoy learning about food and healthy eating. 

  • lesson planning — plan for your pupils' age and key stage, making sure each lesson has clear aims and objectives. Use our Change4Life core competencies as a guide to help you plan your lesson activities, and make sure children are learning and developing core skills in nutrition.
  • make a list — think about what you need before each lesson, such as ingredients, equipment, and worksheets.
  • equipment — pick a range of different types of equipment when selecting what to use.
  • skills — include a wide range of skills, as well as equipment, in your lessons, like chopping, threading and mixing.
  • ingredients — think carefully about the ingredients you choose. Pick seasonal fruit and vegetables and remember to explain to your class why this is important. 
  • make it visual — remember that how food looks influences what people decide to eat, so be creative with the aesthetics of the food and recipes you plan to teach.
  • allergies and intolerances — be aware that some people eat or avoid certain foods because of their religion or because they have a food intolerance.

Use our Change4Life classroom cooking toolkit to help you plan your lessons. It's full of great ideas to help you teach cooking, with cooking FAQs and essential safety tips.

Prep for lessons

Follow these steps to make sure your healthy eating lessons run smoothly:

  1. brief everyone — brief teaching assistants and support staff so they are well equipped to help you and the children.
  2. be a role model — lead by example by removing jewellery and tying back any loose hair.
  3. shop for ingredients — buy food in advance so you have everything you need on the day.
  4. complete a risk assessment
  5. allergies and intolerances — remember any special dietary requirements that children in the class might have and how that affects what ingredients you use.
  6. cooking area — set up a safe cooking area and make sure it's clean.

Bring lessons to life

Make your lessons exciting so children enjoy learning about healthy eating. Keep these ideas in mind:

  • inspire — find inspiring ways to help your pupils learn. Try inviting food experts from the local community, such as chefs or farmers, to come and talk to the children about food.
  • demonstrate — show a wide range of food skills, such as peeling, tearing and using a knife. Focus on Food has some useful food skill videos.
  • use tastings — get children tasting the food they've made and explain why it's important to share meals with friends and family.
  • be a role model — demonstrate safe food handling, storage and personal hygiene.

Teach children how to make healthier food choices with our Change4Life healthy snacks toolkit and healthy eating and cooking toolkit.  Both teaching resources are packed with flexible lesson ideas – just pick and choose the activities that best suit your pupils and incorporate them into your lessons. 

Develop your skills

Just like the rest of the curriculum, actively seeking out Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is really important for teaching healthy eating.

  • teach the right stuff — stay on top of current educational thinking, best practice, and national policies about teaching food, and develop schemes of work to reflect this. Alongside the National Curriculum, keep in mind:
  • share — observe, share and learn with other teachers
  • investigate new foods — keep an eye on the latest food news. Try checking the Food Standards Agency website.
  • keep learning — participate in training, workshops and online courses.
  • build a library — create a library of activities, resources and videos as you come across them to help support your lessons.
  • be reflective — develop a reflective approach to teaching. Regularly review and evaluate your healthy eating lessons, like any other subject, to identify areas you could improve. Try using the Food teaching in primary schools: knowledge and skills framework which includes an audit exercise.