Saturday, October 22, 2011

To Sweet or Not to Sweet

We are eating ourselves to death.

Trust me. I get it.

Americans are obese and African Americans are particularly plagued by health issues related to their diet and lifestyle. It has been reported that 70 percent of African American women are overweight or obese. African Americans suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure at detrimental and deadly rates.

Many of our health issues can be resolved, alleviated or aided by eating a healthier diet. Too much of the wrong foods can kill. But foods can also heal.

Not only are the adults obese, but our children are overweight and out of shape.

Trust me. I get it.
I am an absolute advocate of healthy eating. My mother taught me that. As a child, she made sure that a healthy diet, full of fruits and vegetables was a part of life. She still preaches a vegetable with every meal and at least one green vegetable a day. My husband also insists on teaching our children about putting the right things in their bodies. No white bread. Whole wheat 12-grain bread. There was a little complaining at first but not anymore. Lots of fruits and vegetable. Little red meat. Bacon or sausage every blue moon. I can’t remember the last time I had a pork chop. Chicken and fish. Cut down on the candy.
I support First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

But no cupcakes at school for kids on their birthday? What is the world coming to?

At a PTO meeting at my son’s school last month, parents were informed because of a health initiative grant received by the school district, children were discouraged from bringing cupcakes to school for their birthday. All fundraisers also had to be approved by the higher ups and cookie dough (our biggest fundraiser for the year) and chocolate sales were also discouraged.
Bringing cupcakes to the school on my children’s birthdays was one of the highlights of my now teenagers early school years and something that my son still looks forward to. I must admit it was something I enjoyed as well since as a child my birthday near the end of August always fell just before school started so I didn’t get to celebrate with my classmates. It seems like some of the fun of childhood is being taken away. Instead of cupcakes, pass out carrot sticks?

In the whole scheme of things, this is not earth shattering but it still feels like a loss.

No cupcakes for birthdays? My husband noted that if I was a teacher, I would appreciate the kids not getting a shot of sugar from a birthday cupcake in the afternoon.
Trust me. I get it.

But I also believe that banning cupcakes is not the recipe for healthier children. I think we’re better served by making sure that children are active, school meals are balanced and healthy and most importantly that children and parents are educated and encouraged to practice healthy eating and lifestyles at home.

I’m not beating the drum like some anti-government advocates saying keep your hands off my cupcakes. I don’t plan on occupying the school district offices. But as I asked in the meeting, “You mean there can’t be any sugar in the school?”

I read recently that some schools have banned sugar all together. A few years ago a principal claimed that after banning sugar from her school, test scores rose and discipline problems declined. Maybe there is something to this sugar free thing. And kids can always have their treats at home.

But as in most things in life, I believe a balance is required. Advocate and educate for healthier eating. Cut back and out sugary drinks and fatty snacks. Exercise and practice a healthy lifestyle. But also realize that indulging in a cupcake every once in a while is one of those sweet treats of life. And because like your birthday it doesn’t come around every day, it makes it that much sweeter, special and something to be savored.

1 comment:

Lisa Maria Carroll said...

Whatever happened to P.E. and recess? That would be a great place to start. On another note, I'm glad my kids are grown. Otherwise, I would probably consider homeschooling them.

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