Hi I work in an international school in Thailand. The school provides the students with lunches. They have the FDA approved food pyramid on the wall which makes me cringe every time I see it. I have meet with the head and he is not buying into 'grains are not healthy.' He believes that students need the fibre and its all healthy. The students get a selection of meat to choose and a ton of rice and wholegrain bread rolls. He is very proud that school now provide wholegrain and brown rice.
I have just given my head the Paelo solution yesterday and said he might enjoy reading it. He is not confrontational but older and been indoctrinated with the food pyramid. Any suggestions what else I can do as we are talking a lot of students getting misinformation. Thanks.
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Traditional diets and just eating real food. Pushing paleo dogma (red meat, saturated fat, low-carb) isn't going to win you fans, nor is really the one right way to eat.
I would DEFINITELY teach Health/Nutrition to kids. Definitely. Because in some families they will never cover that.
Since you are in Thailand I would emphasize eating traditional foods. You could talk a bit about Weston Price and traditional diets around the world.
I would also dive in into food/agriculture history and I would explain the dangers of food industry, fast food, hydrogenated oils. I would refer to economy/business and make it very interesting for kids. Tell them interesting stories, show them impressive videos and add funny pictures to your Power Point.
I would explain the connection between the food, gut flora and immunity.
I would assign projects like "200 year old recipe" or "Eating the ancient style" - something fun. Make them cook the food and explain why each ingredient is beneficial, what does it do for your body.
You are doing the right thing but, honestly, whole grain buns and brown rice are the least evil things to worry about if you don't have Mars bars and coke at your cafeteria.
You could start by talking about simple things that many people would probably accept like swapping the 'bad' cooking oils. You could also try educating people about the harmful effects of legumes and grains on the body, although I wouldnt be preachy about it. I think it's really unfortunate that even if it were possible to make a whole school paleo it couldn't be done simply because there are people who will stubbornly refuse to accept any other dietary advise other than the outdated and false information known as the food pyramid. I'm with you - the food pyramid makes me cringe, seeing all those grains on the lowest part of the pyramid makes mad - the amount of servings for grains is ridiculous.
People have been brainwashed into thinking that saturated fat and cholesterol is bad and eating as many grains is good but it's wrong, but once people are taught something it's hard to get them to see the light unless they want to. I just don't think te notion of eating more meats and fats is going to work, people will believe what they want to believe and as far as I know the teaching of the food pyramid and the standard government nutritional nonsense is a common practice and I don't see how it's going to change. Like I said people have been fed so many lies over the years, it can be difficult for them to see the truth. And I agree eating habits are a personal thing and for some people it is a sensitive issue. I can't believe this is happening in Thailand, I didn't know they taught that stuff over there. Scary.
Thanks everyone. Yes being an international school most families are 'well to do.' I know we can't change everything with children but they are so influential at this age. Other teachers are telling the students they must eat their grains and giving them bread etc..... Its just a shame that these students who are at such a vulnerable age are giving misinformation but I guess it has to come from parents.
Thank you everyone for all your replies, much appreciated.
Just wondering - what is the demographics of the school you are teaching at? While you mentioned international school, if the students are generally on the less well-to-do side, a red meat/sat fat heavy + low carb diet is just not going to be feasible. I'm assuming it is not a boarding school either, so the children are going home for other meals? You may end up having angry parents wondering what this teacher has been telling their children.
I'll agree that a focus on traditional foods will be a much more feasible approach. Encourage consumption of fresh seasonal produce and free range antibiotic-free meat. Head-to-tail eating will be good, as a form of respecting their food and avoiding wastage. Consider exploring local food - which uses a lot of spices and rely on white rice-based ingredients as the dominant carb - and perhaps that can tie in with exploring the local culture. On the plus side, Thai cuisine tends to use more fish sauce rather than soy sauce, and also tend to feature coconut heavily. Maybe try promoting coconut water as a preferred drink over carbonated drinks?
I guess unless you manage to convince the head to adopt a paleo-oriented diet, a far more effective angle may be to prevent the students from getting hooked on SAD food items. Processed foods, corn syrup, all that. You may not get the kids on what qualifies as paleo, but forming clean eating habits should set them on a pretty good foundation for life.
Hate to say this, but I think the people in charge are going to balk at the suggestion that you feed the kids more red meat and fat. I don't want to sound like a cynic and I think your heart is in the right place. But converting a whole school to Paleo just doesn't sound feasible. Find a middle ground that they are more likely to warm up to: having a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Do they cook in unhealthy oils? That could be a starting point too. You can suggest gradual changes. Maybe even talk with the kids at lunch and get them exposed to a different viewpoint. See if there's a kid that's diabetic or seems to feel sick a lot (gluten intolerance?)