Now that school is back in session, there will be plenty of birthdays and holidays where high calorie, junky foods will be served in the classroom. We need to rethink these caloric traditions as we are in the midst of an extremely dangerous child obesity epidemic. I agree with the idea that all kids should be able to eat a cupcake every once in a while but I think parents and teachers underestimate how frequently these parties occur.
Most classes contain about 28 children which equals 28 birthday celebrations each year. Then we have all the holidays that are celebrated in the classroom: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Chanukah, Easter/Passover, etc. With 40 weeks in a school year, we are celebrating something in the classroom each week. Even a weekly cupcake wouldn’t be so bad if that was the only celebratory treat eaten each week. But chances are if it is being celebrated in the classroom, it is also celebrated outside of the classroom. So for each school birthday, the child also goes to an out-of-school birthday. For each school holiday celebration, the child also goes to an out-of school holiday celebration. It just never ends.
Schools should be safe havens where parents can send kids without worrying about them being tempted with unhealthy foods. Sure, the child can always say “no thanks”, but how many kids actually have that willpower? Why should they be put in that position in the first place?
So how can we keep the fun and remove the calories from these parties? We can offer healthier food options or take the emphasis off of the food altogether. Here are some fun ideas that don’t involve food…
-Have a dance party. Let the birthday child pick the music and the type of dance. .
-Screen a special movie with the theme from the holiday for the kids to enjoy.
-Do a special class art project or craft that each child can bring home at the end of the day.
-Kids can make and decorate birthday cards for the birthday child; Parents can be encouraged to bring in small “goody bags” containing stickers, erasers, fun pencils and small toys) instead of cupcakes.
Some healthy ideas if your child wants to bring in a food item are:
-Angel food cake with fresh fruit
-Whole grain pretzels
-Low fat popcorn Mmake at home and put in individual “fun bags” for each student.)