Our school district here has, starting with the 2009-2010 school year, instituted a healthy-food policy regarding the treats brought in for birthdays and school parties (Halloween, Holiday, Valentine's Day, etc.). There's probably an actual title for this policy, but I can't recall it at the moment.
You would think someone had demanded that parents supply only brussels sprouts for parties, the way they have reacted to this policy. I happened to be in my older daughter's classroom on Friday, helping out with their Halloween party, and the other moms and I got to talking about this new policy. Their general feeling was that they were not in favor of it, and not only did they express some general disappointment at the "healthy" snacks (bagged popcorn, pretzels - hardly brussels sprouts) that had been provided, one room mom even chose to go against the policy and bring in chocolate cupcakes with the requisite gooey frosting. I brought in some juice boxes (which, in my opinion, are probably of less nutritional value than the home-made cupcakes!).
Now, let me explain where I am coming from with my take on this new policy. Over the past 5+ years, since Sophie's diagnosis of Prader-Willi Syndrome, my feelings towards food in general - any food, not just junkfood - have changed. I have never spent so much time thinking about food, and the calories in various types/quantities of food, than I have in the last five years. The PWS diagnosis demands that B. and I, as S's caregivers, pay strict attention to every calorie of every bite of food/drink of anything that goes in her mouth, right down to the T.ums she takes with every meal. Granted, this puts us as parents into the "extreme" end of vigilance about what our kids eat. On my part, I grew up in a lower-middle-class, large family - the youngest in a family of 10 children with Depression-era parents who, because of necessity and their own backgrounds, were not able or willing to feed us with mountains of junkfood. We didn't ever drink pop. All of our dinners were home-made, and if we had sweets it was home-made cookies. We almost never went out to eat. So, when I had my own children, I too was not (and still am not) into buying lots of pop/junkfood/candy/chips etc. Not that we never have those things - they just aren't considered the main food group in our house. As a matter of fact, I personally have grown rather tired of the whole concept of food in general, both because of PWS and because I am quite tired of spending so much of my time either shopping for food, or cooking it, or cleaning up after the eating of it!! I often have the thought that maybe someday, humans will evolve to the point where we just drink protein shakes all day, or take some kind of Super-Vitamin-Pill, and that's our nutrition for the day. Think how much time, and perhaps money, we would save. The act of sustaining human life would become simply a 10-second-routine, a brief moment a few times a day, emptied of all of its emotional and psychological baggage. Hard to stand in front of a frig eating half of a chocolate cake, when there is no frig, and no need for a chocolate cake.
Yeah, I know. Sounds like a sci-fi novel. And even I would miss the pleasure of having a piece of a good chocolate cake with ganache icing on it!
But anyway, I guess my point is that PWS has shown me how to place MUCH less importance on food. In our house, food is absolutely never used as a reward. Never. We just can't do things this way, not with S. and also not with K. The thing is, I don't think K or S will suffer at all, or have a miserable childhood, as a result! I was never big into the food-as-a-reward thing even before S. came along - I'd rather buy my kids a book or a new box of crayons, anyway. It doesn't bother me one bit that my kids hopefully won't be stuffing themselves with junk at school parties, or coming home with a bag full of candy because it was someone's birthday. In talking with those moms on Friday, they commented that part of their dislike of this new policy is that it's a bit hypocritical on the school district's part, given that the lunches served in the cafeteria every day are not healthy at all. In that case, I say, pack your child's lunch. Don't even give your child the option to use their lunch-money-account to buy ice-cream sandwhiches! Yes it's a chore to pack lunches, but then the parent has control over what their child is eating. K. takes the same thing for lunch every day, and she's fine with it, and there really isn't any question in my mind as to what she's having for lunch. As far as the party in classroom on Friday, well, I didn't hear ANY of the kids complaining about the pretzels, or the popcorn, or the jello jigglers!! I heard more complaining from the parents! Personally I think the kids are just excited that they get to wear their costumes and do something different with their afternoon at school....and aren't they going to go trick-or-treating and collect bags of candy anyway???