The other day I popped into the grocery store for some dinner essentials and was immediately reminded that Halloween is just around the corner. Candy and other treats were prominently displayed along with the ghost buckets and pumpkins for carving. It has begun — the season of celebration, family, holidays, food and treats everywhere.
I love this time of year and our West Asheville neighborhood takes Halloween and trick-or-treating very seriously, kids and adults alike. But as a parent of a child who would never turn down a sweet treat, I sincerely appreciate efforts on the part of her school to limit — and better yet, eliminate — unhealthy treats during the school day, especially this time of year.
We live in a culture of bringing cupcakes to school for birthdays and offering special treats and sweets for every celebration, holiday and event, or even just because. However, all of this adds up, and given the challenge our nation is facing regarding childhood obesity (one-third of our children are overweight or obese), it behooves us to revisit these practices.
I am excited to say that our local school systems agree. Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools have recently revised their student wellness policies to include strong recommendations that will help limit sugary treats and maintain a focus on providing healthy foods to the children they serve, thus walking the walk when it comes to promoting healthy habits.
The policy changes, sparked by the Healthy Hunger-Free Students Legislation, help send consistent messages around health and nutrition and align with widely accepted research demonstrating that good nutrition is linked to better behavior and academic performance. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t still have some fun.
One of my favorite memories of celebrating a holiday at school is from kindergarten. We dressed up as pilgrims and ate our bag lunches under the trees in the school yard. Forty (or so) years later, what sticks in my memory is not the food we had, but the big square “metal” buckles tied to our shoes and eating outside with my friends.
Rainbow In My Tummy® loves to celebrate with children and for children, and there are a lot of fun ways to do it without adding sugar to the mix. Whether you celebrate traditional holidays like Halloween or choose to celebrate autumn and our beautiful mountain foliage, make it a goal this year to do it without sugary treats. Trust me, the children won’t miss it. Here are some great ideas to get you started.
Click here for a printable list of celebrations ideas that you can share with your child’s teacher.
Rainbow in My Tummy is a nutrition-enrichment program created by the Verner Center for Early Learning. Rainbow in My Tummy works with early care and education centers to improve the quality of food served to young children and to cultivate a food culture that establishes a foundation for lifelong health. For more information, contact Rainbow in My Tummy Director Bronwen McCormick at 298-0808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.