Party the nutritious way!
Everyone loves a party. Who doesn’t love an excuse for cupcakes? But did you know that your child could easily consume a third of their daily calories in one classroom birthday celebration?
Birthdays, holidays and other school celebrations are great opportunities to promote a healthy lifestyle, provide consistent messages about healthy eating and create excitement around nutritious, tasty choices at school. No one has to be seen as the food police, though. We’re here to tell you that it is possible to plan events that emphasize healthy foods and align with classroom lessons—and even shift the focus and plan non-food events centered around physical activity, music, art and games.
Make it easy and fun for children to practice making healthy choices – and they won’t come home from school too full for dinner!
Food-Free Healthy Celebrations
One food-free classroom party can lead to a school-wide healthy celebrations policy! You’d be surprised—parents are often relieved when they don’t have to wonder what their children are consuming at school. Here are some ideas for crafty ways to celebrate sans snacks.
Birthday Boosters: Suggest other gifts for the birthday child, like being the teacher’s helper, wearing a special crown or badge all day or choosing a game or activity for the whole class to play.
Healthy Halloween: Kids will get plenty of candy around your neighborhood. Students will enjoy dressing up and trick-or-treating at school for trinkets, toys and other fun non-food items.
Be My (Healthy) Valentine: Show your love for your scholar’s health with healthy tips for celebrating Valentine’s Day.
3 Tips for Partying the Healthy Way
- When food is offered, make sure fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and water are on the celebratory menu.
- Check your school’s wellness policy or school improvement plan to see if they contain any guidelines or goals about food for birthdays, celebrations and family events. If they don’t, find out what it would take to address this issue.
- Remember to discuss the topic with other parents and your school health team and get your principal’s buy in. Check out Make Change Happen for tips on engaging school leaders.
A parent said to me, ‘Are you the cupcake police? You’re the one that’s here making sure that nobody brings cupcakes!’ That allowed a great unique opportunity to have an honest conversation with her and say, ‘No, I’m not the cupcake police. I think you and I want what’s best for our students. If they’re getting five to 10 cupcakes a month and not being active, did you know that really affects how they are learning in the classroom?’ She said no, I encouraged her to join the wellness team, and she did!
– Maritza Gutierrez, Thornton, CO
No Matter the Event, Make it Healthy
From family events at school to birthday parties and everything in between, check out these tips for creating a healthy celebration where fun reigns supreme.
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