Treat Boxes for “Sugar-Free” Kids
Originally published July 18, 2019.
Tara Carpenter, NC.
Holistic nutrition for digestion; specialized in yeast overgrowth.
Treat Boxes are essentially a Tupperware container fill with non-perishable treats kept at school, day-care, summer camp, or a best friend’s home. When my oldest started public school I made one for his kindergarten teacher to keep in the classroom closet and bring down to offer my son something out of each time there was a food item he couldn’t eat because it either contained gluten, dairy (which he was sensitive to) or an ingredient I did not want him to eat like sugar and artificial dye.
Treat Boxes are useful for celebrations, birthday parties, and holiday gatherings. When my son started kindergarten, I was surprised how often sugary items were handed out. I did not want him eating any nor wanted him to feel excluded. I never knew when a sugary item was going to be given; there was no line of communication in this way. Had I known I’d have done my best to make a replica of whatever was being served.
I wanted to find a way to help my child feel included when fun food was served that had refined sugar or artificial colors. Day after day he came home with a blue tongue and hyper look in his eyes. Making him a Treat Box filled with healthy options to choose from solved our issue and my son did not feel deprived or excluded! In the end we kept this box going until he was in middle school. Even his friends wanted one! We ended up filling it often with new trinkets and healthy goodies so his friends felt comfortable choosing something from his box.
Our box gives me peace of mind, knowing my son is enjoying something special AND yummy alongside his friends. ~ H.M.
Treat Box Ideas
Decorate together the box of goodies with stickers and fill with fun stuff!
- Fruit leather
- Meat sticks
- Chia seed bars
- 50 cent pieces
- Fruit-sweetened gummies
- Raw chocolates
- Gum sweetened with xylitol
- Cookies made with lakanto
- Bags of salty almonds
- Packets of roasted nori
- Other trinkets
- sweet treats specially for kids on B.E.D.
Your child’s Treat Box can be brought to school/day-care/camp as long as there’s a teacher or adult willing to keep it somewhere accessible. My son’s kindergarten teacher kept “Ben’s Box” in the classroom closet and brought it out when there was a food served he couldn’t eat.
Artificial Food Dye
I made sure to tape the list of foods to avoid on this box. The teacher also agreed to keep a container of naturally fruit-sweetened popsicles (labeled with my son’s name) in the classroom freezer because I didn’t want him to eat artificially flavored/colored popsicles they normally handed out.
Happy, Healthy Kid
My son loved his Treat Box throughout his elementary years. I remember one day in 2nd grade he came home all excited that his friends wanted a Treat Box too 🙂 We had fun going to the toy store and local co-op to pick out things for his box. We kept this routine up until 6th grade, when I felt he was able to make his own food choices.
Happy, Healthy Mom
In my opinion, it’s far trickier to keep kids “sugar-free” than keeping them gluten-free. The fact that we avoided both in our family didn’t help and certainly didn’t make me the most favorite parent in the classroom. Sure, I may not have been the teacher’s pet but it was important to me that anyone who cared for my son understand our dietary values.
In this way, I was able to feel comfortable about letting him go to school without me there to navigate this part with him. I know all too many health conscious moms, or moms of kids with mild to severe food allergies, who pull their kids out of school entirely because of the lack of food awareness in public schools.
My hope is that more parents, like myself, are proactive about changing the food system in our public schools, about keeping kids “sugar-free” in school. Where I live in Vermont, school gardens are cropping up and teachers are more aware of food allergens; especially with peanut allergies on the rise.
Peace of Mind
When there’s a celebration at school, camp, or elsewhere you can know that your child will not be left out in a group activity that involves a sugary item; that he or she will have a Treat Box to choose something special from. The teacher or adult can let you know when this box needs to be filled, or added to for more variety.
A blessing in a box! I bring treats for my kids when we go somewhere, but now they each have a treat box at school. Thanks for a great idea. ~ A.S.
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May all bellies be happy!