Talking Allergies

Junk food as a treat
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Author:  Storm [ Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:00 am ]
Post subject:  Junk food as a treat

Do you think it's OK to give junk food as a treat to an allergic child? Of course, this means the treat would not contain any of the child's allergens...

In moderation and coupled with a healthy diet, I think it's OK sometimes. But I would like to see more creative ways for schools and other places to provide special treats. The problem is when junk food treats start replacing all types of treats and becomes the easy answer everyone turns to first. Treats shouldn't only be junk food... there are tons of ways to do something extra for special occasions (little toys, books, bubble blowing.. the list is endless) but I don't rule out foods that are less nutritious. It really depends on the specific situation, especially if it involves food. And the reality is, when all the other children are eating "treats", the allergic child does feel left out. I don't think giving the child a carrot while the others are having cake makes him/her feel any better.

Take Easter for example... why does it have to centre around chocolate (religious meaning aside... I'm referring to it in commercial holiday terms)? I've never made it about a chocolate treat... I focused on the hunt for plastic eggs around the house and the end prize is always a book.

What do others think?

Author:  saskmommyof3 [ Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

A new show aired on TLC called "honey, we're killing the kids" which focuses on how parents nutritional habits are affecting their kids long term health. It was a great show.

I voted no, but I think I was unsure of the full extent of the question. I took it to mean food was being used as a "reward". Or as "special treats" in the schools. Both of which I have to say "no" to. I believe parents should have the right to feed their kids a healthy diet at home without the school confusing the child about how special and wonderful junk is. Occasionally parents can give their kids junk food, but I believe it should be the choice of the parents at home...not at school.

I really hate the term "treat" in relation to food. It implies that the food is special and wonderful and it encourages kids to choose it in the future when they have the choice of foods to eat. I prefer to "treat" my kids to a day of bowling, mini golf or a bike ride. Hopefully in the future when they choose to "treat" them selves it will be without food.

For easter I bought plastic eggs that I am going to put clues in and hide. The clues discribe the location of their larger present. They both got a new carebear (they love care bears). They will be so excited!

Author:  ethansmom [ Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:44 pm ]
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My thought is this -- everything in moderation. I can only speak for my son. We eat healthy foods and well balanced meals regularly. He absolutely love fruits and veggies - I don't have to bribe him with sweets to eat a healthy meal. We don't eat a lot of processed foods and eat home cooked meals 99% of the time (a great health benefit to food allergies :wink: ). I think society as a whole can be very food focused - I'm sure we can all associate good childhood memories with food. Going as a family to get an icecream cone, chip and pop night, pizza night, whatever. Because Ethan can't just eat whatever anyone else is eating at any given time because of his PA (and this is mostly true of treat foods) - I'm more sensitve to making sure that he has safe treats so that he is not left out. On a whole, I think that we can do more harm to our children when we restrict foods or make certain foods "off limits" or "bad" - I think there is a greater liklihood that if a child is never allowed to indulge now and again, that they go overboard on sweets when the first opportunity arises. In our house we talk about enjoying all food - "healthy food" and "treat food" (in moderation) and we don't use food to reward behaviour. I'm also in favour of giving non-food items as "treats" like those mentioned above. I don't like how much I'm reading and hearing about schools doling out treats to kids - why is this necessary?? I too believe that decisions around food should be left up to parents - they should just make a decision across the board that, for all children, the only food eaten at school is the food that comes from home, period.

Author:  Sil [ Tue Apr 11, 2006 4:44 pm ]
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Hi Storm,

I don't feel right voting because I am unclear if you mean in schools or at home. I have to agree with ethansmom I try not to deny them any foods. I have learnt this not from food allergies but from my neices and nephews.

My side tends to look at junk food as a real NoNo and demand Please and Thank yous from their children.
My Husbands side tends to feed them mostly junk foods and does not demand Please and Thank yous.

Which one is best? neither.

The kids on my side forget their manners as soon as their parents are not within earshot and eat like pigs when they see something that they normally can't have.
The kids on my husbands side tend to be very picky about what they will eat but do not make pigs of themselves Believe it or not they do tend to have a bit more manners.
My husband and I discussed this issue and we have come to the conclusion that we will not withold the junk food but they must first eat something healthy. We do not tell them what that healthy item must be they must decide. We would show them by example. They now know all the healthy fruits and vegetables. (they then tend to eat less of the junk food because they have been filled with the healthy item. Heck after the healthy item most of the time they forget about the junk) As for please and thank yous we use them regularly on a daily basis when we talk to each other so that it is habit and not just when necessary to get what you want.

Most people are amazed at how healthy my kids eat and how they always use please and thank yous with out us having to constantly remind them.

If it is in school I don't mind giving them a food item once in a while (but they should first have a parents consent to the product.)

Author:  Mylène [ Wed Apr 12, 2006 12:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

It may be because of the way I was raised, but I do not see the harm in giving treats (not too often of course). Either food or stickers, I do not think that one is good and the other one bad. When I started school, my parents were in what I call their "granola period": everything extra healthy!!!! yurk! While others had shepperd's pie in their lunch, I had a greenish lentil mix... yes, it was my parent's choice to give me carob instead of chocolate and drink the stuff that was growing in the back of the fridge insted of Kool-Aid :? ... but I would have hated my parents even more if they would have asked the teacher to refrain from giving cookies in class (safe ones) and give us veggies instead! :? Or drink carrot juice instead of giving us the McDonalds orange drink. Whatever choice my parents made for food at home did not have to mean that I had to be left out in school!

My best childhood memories are around cookies and ice cream... why deny that to our children???? Yes, it is good to eat healthy and all, but we have to choose our battle and I think that keeping the children safe from allergies is the fight we should all fight and maybe leave a few safe cookies once in a while... the rest of life is soo healthy...

Author:  soccermom [ Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:28 pm ]
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My whole family watched that show, "Honey, We're Killing the Kids". What a great concept, and long overdue! I couldn't believe how even my youngest at 8 was so interested. He had to go to bed, so he insisted I tape it for him to watch the next day. We eat pretty healthy in this house, and the kids are allowed one yummy food a day. Depending on the day, that can be a couple of cookies, a home-made fruit muffin, popcorn or a few chips.

I couldn't believe how much junk that family had in their house! I think the premise of the show made my children realize that I'm not such an evil mother and that I feed them the way I do for their health. I think they were particularly intrigued with the computer-generated aging of the kids on the show. I'm sure every child wonders what they will look like when they grow up, so this was an excellent tool. My son ate an orange as he watched the show!


Author:  saskmommyof3 [ Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:24 pm ]
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I do not feel that I am denying my kids "wonderful experiences" and good times. I am a strong believer that ones food preferences are based on what they are used to. My husband as a child had lots of allergies and always ate soya sauce on his macaroni...he hates mac-n-cheese or tomato based sauces. Myself raised on some ukranian foods at holidays and I love cabbage husband hates them. My friend is east indian...she loves spicy foods. My kids honestly do not like junk food. My daughter thinks chips are gross, candy and pop are too sweet, and the one time she had mcdonalds fries she refused to eat them because they were too salty.

The girls don't like it because it is not in their range of "normal" foods they taste every day. They do like birthday cake...but that is limited to birthdays. The constant mcdonalds references at her former preschool made her want to try it...which she did...and she hated everything except the apple slices and an apple juice. At preschool they would give everyone candy treats, she would get her "special ones" mommy left the school and bring it home and not want it. So, why the promotion at school? School kept telling her that "normal kids" like junk, so she should too. Not exactly the message I wanted them giving my 4 year old who does not have a junk food preference.

Author:  Helen [ Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:49 pm ]
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My mom was very health-conscious, but an exception was made for special events like picnics and holidays and visits to grandparents (the grandparents I have in mind lived far away so we didn't see them all that often). I *loved* visiting my grandparents'---they would always take us to really cool places + it is great to be *the* centre of attention. Part of the excitement of going to grandma and grandpa's was the food--bacon and sugary cereal, chips, pop every day, ice cream, unlimited access to safe candy. My mother would only buy these things on the very rare occasion. As a kid I would on occasion beg for sugary cereals, etc., but as an adult I'm grateful that she said no as often as she did.

I think my mother would have preferred us not to develop a taste for sugary things--the foods that kids get used to as kids shape their tastes for the rest of their lives. I know people who grew up not eating sweet things and they really don't care for desserts now. But I think that trying to enforce healthy foods all the time is probably a losing battle unless everyone else follows suit. I think it is okay to establish "junk" foods as treats as long as kids don't expect to eat "junk" everyday. But I think this is up to the individual family---I do not think it is okay for schools to undermine parents' efforts by having pizza days and class parties. Schools should not have potato chips and pop in the vending machines. In fact, I don't think it is alright for people to feed kids anything that the parents don't want them eating for whatever reason.

I do think that sugar is addictive--I sort of found that out when I had to go on the "few foods" diet and had to eliminate sugar (I'm not allergic to sugar, however, so I've added it back in--although now I try to use more natural sweeteners).

Author:  Sil [ Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:23 pm ]
Post subject: 

Perhaps "Deny" was the wrong word. What I was trying to say was: I find most kids want what they can't have. You gave your daughter the option to try McDonalds she did not like it. I think tastebuds are as individual as the person. One of my daughters doesn't like chocolate, One doesn't like meat, etc. my kids don't like Mcdonalds either.

I am of Italian descent (Both parents were born in Italy and I was fed only traditional Italian meals) but I like chinese, east indian, Japanese food etc.

I really don't think schools are "promoting" junk food (I'm sure they don't make a profit from the junk food companies) I think it has more to do with cost and ease.

School kept telling her that "normal kids" like junk, so she should too.
I also don't think the school would say this. I think this is the other students. Maybe you should tell your daughters that when the other students say
"normal kids" like junk,
they should ask the students to define the term "Normal".

Rather than generalizing blame try giving your kids the tools to stand up for themselves and express that it is okay to be who you are. I'm not saying to raise bullies but they should be proud of who they are and to not let anyone put them down. ( example: One of my daughters friends was upset because another girl called her fat. So I asked her "Are you Fat?" she said no. I told her not to let comments like that get her down. next time the kid says a comment like that she just needs to say "Have you looked in the mirror lately?" after she said this to the other girl. It was no longer an issue)

Author:  saskmommyof3 [ Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:22 pm ]
Post subject: 

My "school telling her normal kids like junk" was more of a subliminal message rather than literally :wink: . There was a major silent peer-pressure and school- pressure to like junk however.

At carnival day, there were mcdonalds gift certificates in her "fish pond" prize. There were "mcdonalds toys" to earn through co-operation in the class each day. There was an icecream sundae station at carnival day and popcorn. There were jelly beans and other candy as prizes in the class. Other kids brought licorice and jelly beans to school to share for show and tell (yes, they actually did this). There were special days which parents attended...all with a spread of dainties. And the list goes on, and on, I did not even mention halloween, christmas, easter, valentines day... They may not have actually promoted it...but the message was definitely there that eating junk = fun.

I have a hard time accepting the junk food in the schools because I have no memories of this in school from when I was a child. We had a christmas party, and easter party etc. but the kids in the class all took turns bringing board games to the "parties". About 4 or 5 kids each party would bring a game and everyone would take turns playing them. I remember the class parties being sooo much we would have missed out on if we were all busy eating which seems to be the focus of todays parties.

Author:  Sil [ Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:06 am ]
Post subject: 


I understand what you are saying, But really I don't think the schools are to blame. If you look closely many of these things ( example Mcd toys, gift certificates, pizza etc.) Have been donated or are inexpensive to purchase. Teachers just do not have the time or the funds.

I believe marketing and government are to blame. ( and many guilty feeling parents) But then we would be on a totally different topic.

Junk food is much simpler all you need to do is buy it. Stick it in the kids mouth. It makes them happy and it shuts them up for a while.

What I am trying to say is rather than just complaining about it. What we need to do is equip our children with self-confidence, inteligence and strength to stand up for themselves and not fall for peer pressure. How do we do this? By example.

Perhaps you could approach the teacher/school and ask if you could help set up the next Carnival, parents tea or whatever is coming up.

~Carnival: Have a clown, Paint faces, balloon animals etc.
~Mothers day tea: Guest speaker, class performance etc.

Show your children that one person can make a difference. That it is okay to think outside of the box. I'm sure the teachers/school will appreciate your time and effort and the students will have fun. Most important of all your children will be very proud of their Mom for being able to make a positive difference rather than just sitting back and complaining that the "school kept telling her that normal kids like junk"

Author:  saskmommyof3 [ Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:27 am ]
Post subject: 

I tried really hard to get the school to switch to not food based prizes and activities. The trouble is parents and businesses are readily willing to donate junk food or mcdonalds willing to donate gift certificates or extra toys. The companies use it as marketing and the school is willing to allow them to market to their students since it is disguisted as a "donation". I was told by the preschool that they go with "majority rules" and the majority of parents like the junk incentives and appreciate the donations by mcdonalds.

I looked into what will happen at the K - grade 8 school, and it seemed worse, not better. Bake sales every month, pizza sales everyday, parents bringing birthday cupcakes...etc. My youngest is allergic to milk and cannot be in a school with 100's of kids eating pizza and getting it everywhere! All public areas of the school (washrooms, gym) would be unsafe and a "handwashing program" would be impossible. Trying to remove the junk food absolutely would have made other kids mad at my daughters. Kids that come to school everyday armed with milk.

Anyways, I did do something about the preschool junk problem. I pulled her out and chose to homeschool. If the school wants to be part of the problem with kids health issues (both the allergic kids and other kids), then I will not be a part of it. Yes, schools are strapped for cash and can not always afford to buy things so they willingly accept donations even if they are not in the best interests of the kids. There is a big homeschool movement in canada and the US right now. The number of kids in the US currently homeschooling is in the millions! The junk food issue (mostly because it interferes with allergic kids safety) was a major contributer in my decision to homeschool.

I do however still strongly believe that the junk in the schools needs to go. Marketing to students in the name of "a new coca-cola score board" or "mcdonalds orange drink" at the outdoor fun days is only promoting their products. It does not help kids make good choices in regards to their health.

Author:  Mylène [ Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:05 pm ]
Post subject: 

Maybe it's just because I grew up not that long ago... but where I come from, McDonald's has been donating things to schools for years and years... well, as far as 1984 when I started elementary school... and probably before too... and so did other companies that donated to sports teams and school events...

Author:  Nicole [ Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:48 pm ]
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Kids that come to school everyday armed with milk.

Saskmommyof2, I hear you! I see a peanut butter sandwich or reese's pieces and I see a loaded weapon. Everything revolves too much around food. I am trying to lose weight myself and I go to Weight Watchers. Our leader said that she would like to see a trend reversal about food being at the centre of every activity. One mom on another topic posted that they have food activities at her local library. She objected to that because of her allergic child, but the library replied that they would continue to allow these activities and that her child would get a false sense of security if they stopped allowing food in the library, as books might have traces of this and that!

When I was growing up, you weren't allowed any food or drinks at the library and that was that! Same at school. There was not a whole lot of partying and special treats and special favours for a job well done. We were happy if we got a gold star. Hard work was its own reward. Now there is not a week that goes by without a special priviledge for working hard and it often involves food! We coddle our children way too much!

Although I believe it is nice sometimes to have special food because eating is one of the greatest pleasure in life, we shouldn't use food as a reward. As far as school is concerned though, events revolving around food are something that should be eliminated. There are enough things distracting the children as it is. But that's my own rant about education :x

Author:  saskmommyof3 [ Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:17 pm ]
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Nicole, that mom who cannot attend library programs with her kids...that's me! :D

Saskatchewan in the "fattest" province in canada and prince albert (where I live) is the "fattest" city within Saskatchewan. Maybe that is a contributer to why I have "had enough". People must just be worse here or something! :roll: I believe the figure was 2/3 of adults are overweight and rising for our childrens generation.

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