Child holding sweets

Sugaring it up

My daughter just turned three. Before I had her, I never imagined what a “thing” a child’s birthday could be. Aside from the actual party, there is the actual birthday, the school ring and finally, the nanny’s party.

That’s potentially, a lot of sugar.

Effects of Sugar

I worry about sugar, especially the effects of sugar on our kids’ health. I don’t just worry about the obvious effects of sugar on insulin signalling, I also worry about the long term effects of sugar on gut flora, immunity, mood and sleep.  Sure, a birthday comes but once a year.

But if you add in all the parties around a birthday, you’ve now got four days of high sugar intake. Multiply that by all your child’s friends and their parties, and you have a guaranteed sugar binge at least one day per week excluding the treat’s cupboard at home.

Alternatives to Sugar

Kids love to party and they don’t need sugar to do so. The truth is, the more sugar you have at a party, the more time the kids at that party will spend eating treats and not partying.

At my daughter’s recent party, we had popcorn, droewors, fruit and sugar-free lollipops on offer. The cake was the only high sugar food and we only cut that at the end of the party. As far as I know, we didn’t receive any complaints.

Instead of the kids hanging around the snack table, they played for two hours and then went home exhausted from having fun. There were also no tears, no fighting and, I’m proud to say, not one meltdown – and this was in a group of majority three year olds.

We Need to Change the Way We Think about Food

Kids don’t need a table full of rubbish to enjoy themselves. They need to play. Wouldn’t it be great if we redirected the emphasis on food at parties to play at parties? Instead of a bowl full of smarties, we could just have a bowl full of strawberries? We need to change the way we think about food and, in doing so, the way our children do.