Birthday Cake Ban

I hate being one of those crotchety old people who hears a story, shakes his head in disgust, and says, “When I was a kid…”

grumpy-old-man-with-caneYet, I find myself in that position (hopefully I am not crotchety however).

“When I was a kid…” I don’t remember parents bringing birthday cakes or cupcakes to classrooms. I just don’t think it was done way back then; maybe they melted on the stagecoach ride over. Who knows? Yet, times change and it appears to be standard operating behavior for parents to do so nowadays — that is, unless you reside in Northern Kentucky.

Burlington Elementary School in the Bluegrass State revised its wellness policy.

The end result is a ban on food for school birthday celebrations. We’re not just talking about cakes; rather — in the interest of promoting healthier food choices — ALL other snacks are now verboten. Non-food “treats” such as pencils, balloons, erasers and book-marks are suggested. (“Happy birthday Johnny, now blow out your bookmark!”)

The intention is laudable; they’re actually doing some-thing to combat the ever-burgeoning obesity crisis and attempting to shift the focus of celebrations away from food. Good on them for that. And there are indeed health concerns involving food allergies; not to mention, I imagine it’s purt’ near impossible to school a child redlining on a sugar buzz.

Yet I have concerns.

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Twenty Years at Goal Weight

man-in-diapersI entered the planet at nine pounds 14 ounces.

Assuming that to be normal, thirty years later, as a newly minted father, I panicked when the doctor informed me that my firstborn weighed six pounds six ounces.

Looking me in the eye, attempting to calm my jitters, he replied, “Six-six is normal. I promise he’s fine.”

“But I weighed ten pounds when I was born!” I protested.

“I can’t help it if you were cruel to your mother,” he replied.

Moral of the story: I was born big, and from that moment, packed on the pounds, tipping the scales at ten pounds for every year.

To explain, I weighed 50 pounds at age five, 90 pounds at age nine, and 130 pounds when I was a teen. From there, I accelerated, reaching 230 upon entering high school — poor timing to say the least. Of the 1107 students in my class, I was the second fattest. Further putting this in perspective, that was in the day when childhood obesity was an oddity, rather than unfortunately as it can be today, quite common.

Kids are brutal, so what were supposed to be some of my best years were anything but. Girls ignored me; guys badgered and bullied me.

Physical education was the lowest of the low.

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Shocking Development in Behavior Change

According to a university study, approximately 40 percent of our daily actions are habits; unconscious routines we do by rote.

Asleepwalking-mant first, I had trouble believing that. Yet, consider a typical day. Unless it’s an unusual occasion, such as vacation or maybe weekends; you wake up at approximately the same time. You are either a “breakfast eater” or you’re not; habit number one. Should you be of the former category, your morning repast will consist of the same basic items it does every other morning, despite the fact that the average grocery store offers over 40,000 choices from which you can choose.

If you commute to your job, you depart at the same time, most likely down to the minute, traveling the same roads, arriving at the same location, even parking in the same space. Upon arriving, you greet co-workers with the same banter, perform the same tasks, take lunch at the same time (at the usual restaurants), order the same meals, and head home at your regular time.

Yet, that’s not all.

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Upset About Bake Sales

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act went into effect July 1, setting new, updated standards for calories, fats, sugar, and sodium for “competitive foods” sold at schools.

competitive-food

“Competitive foods” do not wear uniforms and engage in sports; rather that’s government-speak for vending machine snacks and bake-sale goodies. This regulation sets standards for calories, fats, sugar, and sodium, and is attempting to push foods with whole grains, lowfat dairy, fruits, vegetables, or protein foods as their main ingredient. It does require that food and beverage items sold during the school day achieve certain standards, but also allows for special exemptions for the purpose of conducting infrequent school-sponsored fundraisers. What the law does not do is define “infrequent,” leaving that to the states to set their own limits.

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Take Time to be Alone

dream-written-in-sand

Take time to be alone more often than you think you need to.

One of the prime triggers in engaging in a bad habit is looking for a way to give to yourself, especially if you’ve been very busy and overwhelmed.  When we don’t take time for ourselves, we end up “rewarding” ourselves with our habits. It’s a way of taking care of ourselves in the moment, but it doesn’t feel so great when we’re done.

If you want to improve the chances you’ll stay on program and you won’t suffer from a “guilt dessert,” take a few minutes to be alone every day; long enough to decompress.

It doesn’t have to be very long, just long enough to get yourself centered.

By the way, “alone” is not “lonely” – unless you choose to make it so.

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