Three Glazed Donuts

Little girl with sugar glazed face

There was something all around his mouth, spanning from one ear to the other. It looked strangely like donut glaze. I asked, “Did you eat something in preschool choir tonight?” He confirmed my suspicions by shouting, “Yes! We had donuts!” Later I found out that he had eaten not just 1, but 3 donuts. Thus the amount of donut glaze on his face. I wondered why they allowed the preschooler to eat 3 glazed donuts at 6:30 in the evening. On the previous Sunday, our preschool choir sang in the morning worship service, and this was their party or reward for singing so nicely. But 3 donuts?!

This incident led me to encourage us all to look at the kinds of foods we offer preschoolers at church. Whether for snacks or rewards, what are we teaching them about healthy eating when we consistently give them sugary snacks, or they are given candy every week at church? In Mission Friends when we focus on the Christian concept area of Self, we teach preschoolers that God made me and God wants me to take care of my body. (See Mission Friends Guide for Leaders, p. 45.) Yet as we say this to our preschoolers, are we teaching them the opposite if we give unhealthy foods each week?

As you think of the foods you offer at church, also consider preschoolers who may have health considerations. Be mindful of food allergies, and always post the allergy alert chart when giving any food. Consider preschoolers with diabetes, and how they will feel when everyone else is given packages of candy. Preschoolers can feel left out. Keep the needs of your preschoolers in mind.

Giving preschoolers treats in moderation is okay periodically as something fun, but think about the alternatives to give. Provide healthier snacks such as carrot sticks, pretzels, apple and orange slices, or fresh pineapple chunks. Instead of candy as rewards or special treats, consider other possibilities that are non-food items: stickers, pencils, erasers, bookmarks, party bubbles, pencil toppers, stampers, rulers, bouncy balls, mini play dough packages, or small packages of sidewalk chalk. Instead of giving rewards in which preschoolers get something, consider a reward in which they do something they enjoy: spread shaving cream on the table, cotton ball “snowball” fight, play with the parachute (or twin sheet) outside, or have messy art day.

Everything we do with our preschoolers at church makes a difference. This includes the foods we offer. Let’s help preschoolers get off to the right start by teaching them about making healthy choices in the foods they eat.

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