This week is Nutrition and Hydration Week, so we thought we’d share some of work we do around nutrition in schools.

Nutrition is a huge part of the personal development sessions we deliver within schools. Getting your nutrition right not only helps with physical health but also significantly contributes to one’s mental health, better preparing young people to succeed in school. We deliver a three-week block around this important topic in our Schools Programme.

The first session we deliver is all about identifying the separate food groups and what they do for our body. Using the NHS Eatwell Plate we ask our participants to create a balanced meal and present this to the group. The second week looks at making positive choices and how to cut down sugar intake in a healthy way. We also explore hydration, how to recognise when you are becoming dehydrated and the importance of hydration for brain and body function. The final session is all about sugary drinks, which is the top sugar supply for young people. We often find that the best way to get through to our young people is to show rather than tell so we give them a practical exercise, which involves the groups measuring out the sugar content of popular drinks. This particular session always leaves our young participants in awe – one of our boys had consumed a bottle of Irn-Bru, a small milkshake and a crispy bar just before one of the sessions and was gobsmacked when he calculated that he’d consumed over four times the recommended sugar intake in just one sitting!

SOHK Schools Programmes Nutrition Posters 

In all of these sessions there is an emphasis on the fact that what we eat affects how we feel. Many of our young people will have some knowledge of the importance of nutrition for physical health through their science or PSHE classes, but often they won’t know about the positive impact that good nutrition has on mental wellbeing. We ensure that we teach our young participants that good nutrition is as much about being mentally healthy as it is about being physically healthy. It is also incredibly important to us that we educate our young people about body image and make sure that they do not mistake good nutrition as part of ‘diet culture’. We deliver various sessions that look at this subject which has grown to be vital to our Schools Programmes in the age of social media. Through various practices School of Hard Knocks teaches that being healthy and happy does not equate to having any certain body type.

Nutrition is now becoming as important a topic in our Adult Courses. Many of our adult participants come from low-income backgrounds and lack the skills to cook nutritious recipes, so School of Hard Knocks has started to integrate cookery classes into some our courses. Working with Edinburgh-based charity Fresh Start, we take our participants to weekly cookery classes where they learn how to make various different nutritious meals. The feedback has been fantastic with many of our participants continuing to attend classes at Fresh Start - we look forward to making these sessions, highlighting the importance of good nutrition, a core part of some SOHK’s courses.