Non-Candy Treats Foster Healthy Habits

By Tiffany McAvoy

A couple of months ago as my daughter’s ninth birthday approached, I thought of what treat I could make to bring to school.

I knew there were a couple of kids with severe allergies in her class, so I ruled out  traditional baked goods.

We came up with a fun, non-food treat. We bought crazy straws and cut out circles to tape onto them to make each resemble a balloon.

Then we typed “Hip, Hip Hooray, it’s Tori’s Birthday” to go on each of the circles.

The straws cost $4 and we used paper we already had on hand. The project ended up being a lot less expensive than buying baked goods for 24 students, and it took less time than making cupcakes.

After they sang Happy Birthday, Tori passed the straws out to the class. All of the students were excited.

Everyone got the same thing and no one was singled out for having a non-allergen treat, nor was anyone sugared up!

I watched how excited the kids got about having something that they could keep.

It got me thinking about how to incorporate healthier treats into other areas.

For our Valentine’s Day party at school, I suggested that the students bring nonfood treats.

Kids got creative – Chapstick that read “I’ll ‘stick’ by you” and Valentine pencils saying “You are the ‘WRITE’ one for me.”

Using non-candy treats or rewards is not about having strict junk food rules. The goal is for kids to have a healthy relationship with food.

An aspect of that is for them to realize that not all treats and parties need to revolve around food. There are other ways to have fun and to celebrate without serving candy.


Tiffany McAvoy is the mother to Tristan, 20, Abby, 13, and Tori, 9. She is an elementary school teacher in Madison County and writes about her family’s adventures with food on her blog