Please note: This article originally appeared on LiveWell Colorado
For lots of school age kids, the holiday season means school parties, pageants and plays. These can be a lot of fun, of course, but they can also mean an abundance of sweets and high fat foods.
Sure, we all love to have a treat now and then, but a recent LiveWell Colorado survey found that Colorado moms estimated their young kids can eat up to 2-3 sugary snacks per week (cupcakes, cookies, cereal treats) in the classroom. As a mom of 3, I can assure you that many weeks my kids eat a lot more than 2-3 sugary snacks
That’s more than a “treat” – that’s a regular part of the diet! Oops!
Most of us enjoy an indulgence once in a while. In fact cupcakes and other desserts and snacks can be part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. Making sure that moderation (and not domination!) is in place, however, can be tricky, particularly when it comes to treats outside of the home.
So what is a family to do? How can we help our kids stick to a healthy eating routine while having fun at the same time? How can you be “that parent” who monitors nutrition at school but who isn’t at the same time annoying, embarrassing or pushy?
Teachers, room parents and administrative staff are often thinking about school celebrations months in advance. In order to ensure that healthy snacks and activities are incorporated into school celebrations, volunteer to help early and often.
Even though the winter holidays and Valentine’s Day are months away, now might be a good time to volunteer to coordinate the food for the parties. It will give you time to organize fun, healthy snacks and it will also be a relief to those in charge to know that aspect of the party is set.
Ask for help.
Whether it’s other moms or dads who share your ideas about nutrition or those whose children struggle with food allergies, lots of families are interested in providing a variety of food options at school. Ask your child’s teacher to put you in touch with families with similar interests, or send out a couple of emails to fellow parents. You may just find an enthusiastic and supportive group ready to help you provide healthy foods!
Keep it balanced.
Holidays and school parties can be excellent times to talk about and teach what it means to have a balanced, healthy diet. Talking about (and modeling!) a well-balanced diet is essential when teaching our kids about overall health. Providing lots of fruit, vegetable and lean protein options, along with one, small, special treat at a school party may be just the way to get started.
Have fun and get active!
Providing nutritious snacks is not the only way to encourage overall health during school parties. Consider holding a dance party, a limbo contest or a three-legged race during the event. Physical activity is not only an important part of overall health, it also gives the kids (and adults!) something to do other than hang around the snack table.