Banner-01

Character and Food: You Are What You Eat

Written by  Wednesday, 09 April 2014 10:06

Lindsay Graham comments on the influence food has on character; through emotions, values and traits.

 

 

Food and its influence on character could be something rather unusual to write about but when you start to think about it you begin to realise how food shapes so many aspects of our daily lives and indeed that of our next generations.


After a career working with community groups and schools across the UK I truly believe that food can influence our behaviour and character. Hunger in particular is a feeling that we all have experienced at some time in our lives and can empathise with. It is a feeling that drives our behaviour towards others and how we behave ourselves. Volunteering and fundraising for hunger global projects that support school food such as Marys Meals or the World Food Programme is something that thus displaying the character trait of humanity.


For the last two years I have been in a position of voluntary co-ordinator for a global day on School Food. It's been an interesting journey so far and one that started in Scotland. I am pleased to say that much of what I have learned about schools, education and people has come from a love of food and nurturing role is has to play in education of children.


Through this worldwide project I have learnt about how food plays a valuable role in our cultures and religious beliefs, both areas that can influence and shape character. Families' values of eating together at celebration times such as Christmas, Passover and Eid can stay with us for a lifetime.


Food is a topic that both adults and children can talk about in a variety of contexts and by using a mix of emotions. Emotions such as joy, sadness, pride, shame, wonder, amusement, caution, patience and more. Can you remember a time when you might have felt a food connected emotion? Pride for instance at producing a marvellous meal or wonderful harvest. Shame in over indulgence of something that we know may not be good for us which might demonstrate a lack of temperance.


Curiosity about food is also trait I have become acutely aware of working in schools and with children and young people. Having courage to be different from peers and try something new that is a non-traditional food has often brought out character.


The saying 'you are what you eat' is one that is used with regularity in terms of decision making and health behaviour. Scotland was one of the first countries to lay down legislation in 2007 with is Schools Health Promotion and Nutrition Act on school food and wellbeing that clearly advocated healthy choices, access to good food and linked education to food and wellbeing through the curriculum. This policy is something I have been privileged as a parent and professional to witness over the last decade. I will enjoy watching the next generation of Scottish young people as they emerge from ten years of government's investment in Hungry for Success and the now revised Better Eating Better Learning policy. With the advances in technology and social media I do believe that this generation are now true global citizens and food will continue to play its part in shaping their future characters.

Lindsay Graham

Lindsay Graham is a UK leading expert in food and health promotion with a focus on children and young people. A former community nurse and civil servant she has worked in strategic government national roles in Scotland and England. Founder of International School Meals Day her many professional links with a variety of ‘food and health interest’ organisations in the voluntary, commercial, academic and research arenas extend beyond the UK into Europe and the US. Her contacts and networks reach from grass roots projects in the Highlands of Scotland to the White House in Washington DC.


Now an independent advisor her clients across the UK include the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly, Food Standards Agency, Health Scotland and the Children’s Food Trust, Soil Association Scotland. A member of Lead Authority in education Catering and American School Nutrition Association she currently sits on the All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food. Her special interests areas and expertise include ; use of digital technology in service delivery, free school meals, Children’s Food & Wellbeing Programmes ,Child Poverty , Food banks and Health Inequalities. As a parent carer she was a founder and former director of two Highland children’s charities that support families affected by disability.

 

Twitter | @LindsayGrahamUK

 

Newsletter Signup

Register to receive our network updates, with latest news, editorial comment and event opportunities. Sign up today

Character Research
Character Research

Research projects academic insight and comment.

Conference 2015
Conference 2015

International Conference on Character in Glasgow 2015

Worth a look
Worth a look

News from our partners and other places

Pathway Project
Pathway Project

Pathway Project: A Call for Evidence

Themes
Themes

Character and sport, business, education, more...

Organisations
Organisations

Organisational Members

Inspirational People
Inspirational People

Who do we admire and why?

About
About

Find out about Character Scotland

Members Area

Small Grant Scheme
Small Grant Scheme

Small grant funding for individuals and organisations

Character Awards
Character Awards

Awards for individuals and organisations

Character Strengths
Character Strengths

Discover your character strengths

Character Toolkit
Character Toolkit

Teaching resources, activities and links

Supported by

john-templeton-foundation-logo
garfield-weston-foundation-logo
enders-analysis-logo
the-macrobert-trust-logo
dct-digital-print-logo