Home / Health & Well-being / The dreaded birthday party – sugar, sugar, sugar part 1
The dreaded birthday party – sugar, sugar, sugar part 1

The dreaded birthday party – sugar, sugar, sugar part 1

CathBy Catherine Clark

I’m sure we’ve all felt it at some time or other – we just get the family back into the rhythm of relatively healthy eating after a holiday, or a family event and then what happens, the dreaded party invite arrives home! And parties mean sugar, and more sugar and party packs i.e. more sugar at home after the party.

So let’s deal with first things first – I’m sure that many people reading this are thinking that it’s just a treat, just a bit of sugar so what’s the big deal? Mary-Ann Shearer says the following about sugar:

‘Refined sugar, flour and sweets should be avoided at all costs as they upset the endocrine and immune system, and affect the function of the brain.’

 And article by Ask Dr Sears states that:

‘An overdose of sugar, eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of two- and-a-half 12-ounce cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent.’

 The article also states that sugar promotes obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The other offenders when it comes to birthday parties are preservatives, additives, flavourants and colourants. The Barbie cakes bright pink and purple skirt is most likely packed full of all of the above. Apart from the behavioural issues linked to these items such as hyperactivity and an inability to concentrate there may be a longer term impact due to the build-up in the body of these items over time.

I am certainly not against a treat every now and again but I find the battle of having to re-introduce healthier food choices to tired and ratty children after the party sugar high is quite a lot to deal with. And I don’t believe that the constant hormonal upsets of regular ‘treats’ is doing my children’s bodies any good. On the other hand my husband and I don’t like to constantly tell our children that they can’t eat this or that as that seems to add to the attraction. And so this is how we have decided to deal with parties:

Never send your child to a birthday party on an empty stomach

Depending on the time of day of the party we ensure that the relevant meal prior to the big occasion is a hearty one. For morning parties we might enjoy beautiful homemade gluten-free crumpets with carob/agave syrup, coconut oil and fresh fruit. For afternoon parties we might make sandwiches on gluten free, stoneground brown and wild rice bread with our favourite fillings. Whatever our choice we make sure that we engage our children in the decision making process to ensure that it is a meal that they have bought into and will enjoy and we make sure that it is generous! When my children arrive at a party on a full tummy then they will most likely show less interest in the snacks provided.

 Always carry your own supply of drinks and snacks to the party

I always ensure that I carry drinks and snacks that my children are familiar with to any party or function that we attend. My kids drink 100% fresh juice diluted with filtered water or even just water on its own. Snacks that they enjoy are things such as organic brown rice cakes, organic dried mango (sulphur dioxide free), popcorn sprinkled with herbal salt or fresh fruit such as bananas or apples. Having your own snacks on hand will ensure that healthier alternatives are always available to your children should that be their preference.

 Educate your children as to why certain choices are healthier

Instead of simply saying to our children that they can’t eat certain things because they are bad for them we try rather to educate them as to why we feel that way. This groundwork is done long before the party is attended and once we are at the party (having arrived with a nice full tummy) my kids are left to make their own decisions as to what they consume. I will, however, offer them my healthier options brought along from home at certain intervals which they sometimes accept and sometimes turn their noses up to!

At the end of the day my goal is to raise my children into health conscious and well-informed adults and I will achieve this through educating my children as to why I make certain choices but most importantly by living out those healthier choices in my own life in order to model to my children a healthy lifestyle. Remember that no matter what you say to your children they will always follow what you do…