How diet culture come up in elementary schools?

In this week’s episode Gwen Kostal and I discuss how diet culture comes up in elementary schools for children. Listen to the full episode here. The impact teachers and support staff have on their student’s relationship with food is significant. It is always most supportive to work collaboratively with the school and your child when tackling these dilemmas.

Gwen shares how diet culture has recently shown up in her home with her son. She discusses how she handled the situation in partnership with her son. Along with how she empowered him in making a choice that best served him in that moment.


The most common ways diet culture comes up in school environments

The most common ways diet culture comes up in elementary schools is usually through:

  • Well-meaning comments both in and out of the classroom. Such as colleague conversations, teaching about body size in a lesson, volunteers or parents discussions.
  • Lunch box policing and policies. Suggesting certain orders food may be consumed in. Deming foods to be “healthy and unhealthy.”
  • In the curriculum – teachers using outdated resources, teaching “good and bad foods”, weight and body shape assignments, or examples used in the curriculum to showcase to teachers of ways they may apply a lesson.


What are the harms of diet culture for kids?

We also talk about short- and long-term harms of diet culture on our kids such as:

  • the development of an eating disorders
  • missing the root cause behind the eating behaviour such as anxiety
  • marginalizing food-insecure or rural families
  • eroding the adult-child feeding relationship


Listen to the full episode here


How do you bring a concern up with the teacher?

Gwen shares some tangible tips for parents to manage these conversations effectively. Encouraging parents to come from a non-threatening and curious standpoint. Using a compassionate perspective to discuss an incident or concern you may have.

  • Start by gathering all the information about the school situation
  • Understand your child’s perspective
  • Stay in a curious mindset that is not judgemental
  • Open the dialogue up in a supportive and non-blaming sense with the teacher
  • Build rapport, trust and open communication with the teacher
  • Provide resources last

You may also check out my lunch box cards I made to help facilitate a conversation here. 

She then leaves us with her advice on how to best protect kids from diet culture that leads with your family’s values.

Listen to the full episode here!


Gwen Kostal Dietitians 4 TeachersConnect with Gwen Kostal and her business on Instagram or website at Dietitians4Teachers . Gwen works directly with teachers and school support staff to gently reframe the nutrition narratives in the classroom.



Do you have a question you would like answered on an episode?

Send me an email at or a DM on my podcast Instagram handle here.



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    Atheana Brown is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in disordered eating, body image, intuitive eating, and family nutrition. Her mission is to break the generational cycles of dieting and body shame.

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