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Treat Boxes for Sugar-Free Kids

When my oldest started kindergarten, he hadn’t been exposed to much refined sugar or artificial food dye. We were an organic, homemade kind of family that avoided gluten, sugar, and pasteurized dairy and most of our friends ate the same way. If we went somewhere where there would be food we couldn’t eat, then we brought something or ate before we left the house. This was our norm and worked well for us until school started.

Our “norm” changed on the 1st day of kindergarten when my son jumped off the bus with a blue tongue from a lollipop he had been given. From that day on, he was exposed to sugary, processed food on a daily basis and though we sent him with wholesome lunch and snacks, there was still the onslaught of celebrations that involved junk food.

Up until then I had thought it was hard work to keep him off of gluten and dairy. Well, that was nothing to keep him off sugar and artificial dye (Red #40, Yellow #5). I struggled with how to communicate to the teachers about my want for my son to avoid certain foods and explore ways to support him so that he did not feel excluded.

At first, I did not say anything and watched him come home with various colors on his tongue and a new ‘hyperness’ that we did not love. One evening we attended a performance that his class put on at school and we noticed that the teacher was giving each child a Hershey kiss for standing in line straight and quiet. I also knew that his teacher kept her desk drawer filled with m&m’s and kit-kat bars as rewards for the kids doing this and that. On Fridays, there was ‘movie day’ where they rolled in a t.v. and gave each child a bowl of microwaved buttery popcorn and red kool-aid.

I talked with other like-minded parents and met with the principal and individual teachers about how to handle the amount of sugar and processed food that was being offered at school. We asked “why were kids being given artificial colors and sweeteners in a learning environment?”. Foods known to cause an array of health issues such as attention deficit disorder and diabetes. We brainstormed ways to help the kids who could not eat that kind of food so that they did not feel excluded from their peers. We had many a lengthy conversation, but the changes we hoped to see in place were never made. Many of the other parents ended up pulling their kids out of the system to home-school or pay for an alternative form of education.

All the while my son came home full of sugar. There was an endless stream of birthdays and holidays and rewards given in the form of something sweet to eat. If I knew about an event ahead of time I would send a cupcake he could eat or a special treat that mimicked what was already being served. More often though, I did not know what was happening or when.

I watched my son become more hyper by the day and turn up his nose at previously loved naturally sweetened desserts that we had always enjoyed together as a family.

Treat Boxes

After a few weeks I knew something had to change. And so I came up with the idea of Treat Boxes; which is basically a Tupperware container filled with non-perishable treats that can be offered to choose from at a school celebration. We decorated that box and filled it with fruit leather, meat sticks, chia seed bars, 50 cent pieces, bundles of fruit-sweetened gummy bears tied with a ribbon, stickers, raw chocolate, xylitol gum, cookies made with lakanto, bags of salty almonds, packets of roasted nori, and other trinkets. 

The next day we brought his Treat Box to school and the teacher agreed to keep it in the classroom closet and bring it out on special occasions so that he could choose something. My son loved his box and even came home one day excited that his friends wanted one too 🙂 I may not have been the teacher’s pet but felt that she understood our dietary values well enough that I could go on with my days, knowing my child was not being given food that I did not agree with. 

Now, when there is a celebration or sugary treat passed out at school, I know that he has his Treat Box to choose from. The teacher lets me know when it needs to filled or added to for more variety. This box has given me peace of mind and has been a real life-saver, knowing my son is enjoying something special alongside his friends. 

A blessing in a box! I bring my own treats for my kids when we go somewhere but I didn’t think about giving the teacher a treat box for them. Thanks for another great idea!! 👏🏽 ~ A.S.

Snacks for Kids on The Body Ecology Diet

Toasty Coconut Truffles

Lakanto, a healthy sugar substitute

May all bellies be happy!

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1 comment to Treat Boxes for Sugar-Free Kids

  • Shirley Carpenter

    Tara, it is fun to see your fantastic childhood imagination evolve into the world of being equally creative in the world of food allergies. I am so proud of you growing so beautifully in this area. You are helping others learn skills and build confidence as they chew away (ha!) at their own food issues.

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