Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet FS1063 | November 2013
Everyone loves getting rewards for a job well done or a special achievement. What do you like to give for rewards? Is it a ribbon at the science fair or a medal for the soccer tournament or an ice cream sundae after scoring high on a test? Many times we use food or beverage as a reward. Food used for rewards are often high in sugar and/or fat, low in nutrients and high in calories. While using food once in a while is fine, using it all the time can add unwanted pounds. Physical activity does burn calories, but usually we eat more calories than we use. For example, 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream with 2 tablespoons of chocolate sauce has about 246 calories1. A person would have to walk for 1 hour and 15 minutes at a moderate pace (3 miles per hour) to use up those calories2. Another problem with sugary food or beverages is that sugar causes tooth decay unless you brush often. A healthier alternative is to use non-food rewards.
Find something you can reward each student for during the month or semester such as improvement in grades, helping another student or showing a kindness to others. Everyone wants to feel special. You may be surprised by the positive results from regular praise or other reward.
Celebrations and food go together, so make the party healthier by including nutritious choices alongside higher calorie options. For example, provide fruit along with cake and always offer water to drink. Get the party guests moving with active games or dancing. Find more ideas on the RCE fact sheet FS1049, "Let's Eat! Healthier Snacks and Parties: A guide for organizations, schools and families."
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