Some parents may be concerned about what children will get up to and who will be supervising at an over-12 year old’s party… but how many of us think about the safety of a party when a child is turning 5, or 7 – about all the sugary food and additives in food our children will be eating there, for example?
As a parent, and a Medical Herbalist with a passion for food, it never ceases to amaze me what one finds on the tables at a kid’s party. It’s sugar and chemicals, really, just disguised as candy canes, lolly pops, biscuits, chips, cup cakes, jelly, fizzy drinks and sweets, to name just a few.
But… all kids love these things and we can buy them in the supermarket, so surely they are safe?!!! Our kids are brought up on these manufactured, sugary foods. We (well some of us adults) even enjoy them too. So how bad can they be?
Well, pretty bad, actually: and I didn’t have to do a two or three year degree on nutrition to figure this out for myself. To understand additives in food, all I did was use a little pocket book called ‘The Chemical Maze’, a guide to all the mysterious numbers on food labels – and their harmful side effects. I recommend it – it will inspire you to clean out your fridge and cupboards.
I totally understand that our children get excited, but they really do go mad at some parties and this may be because of food colourings, additives and preservatives, (and that’s all without considering the sugary foods themselves!), many of which have side effects that include hyperactivity.
Some people say, “Oh, it’s just once in a while and it’s only a small amount”. But the fact is, at a party, children can consume a lot of these additives and colours throughout the day, all in different foods, which then become a chemical bomb inside their digestive system.
Just think about it… some snacks, a piece of cake smothered with icing, sprinkles and jelly snakes, a fizzy drink, a lollipop and the lolly bag to take home (and that’s a conservative estimate). It is already a lot of sugary food and additives mixed into the child’s small digestive system and it is quite a challenge for a body that size to process.
What’s worse, when we notice the terrible behaviour resulting from the foods the children have consumed, we get upset and ask them to settle down. How can they possibly settle when they are ‘wired’ on all the sugary food and additives they have consumed?! Their nervous system is racing, and they are buzzing with hyperactivity. We then tell them to sit still and we get mad at them when they don’t.
I recently went to a party for a 6 year old and the only treat that was ‘special’ was the cake. There were lots of delicious, nutritious snacks such as fruit kebabs, homemade muffins that were sugar free, sushi, meatballs, mini egg and salmon bites, hummus and carrot sticks, and homemade strawberry and banana ice cream. It was a beautiful party… the children, all 20 or more of them, all played together. The boys were not tackling each other; there was no crying, screaming or tantrums… just laughter and giggles of delight.
And then… my eight year old daughter went to a birthday party with her friends (I didn’t attend this one with her), and when she got home, she was a mess – she was behaving no differently to someone who was coming off drugs.
Nothing was right… her tummy hurt… she was crying… she wouldn’t eat her dinner… she kept hurting herself – it was really challenging. I asked her what she had eaten and the list was shocking – she had not eaten a single food that would have given her any sustenance. My daughter had spent an entire afternoon on junk food, which included sugary food and an obvious array of additives in the ‘food’, and her behaviour was a great indicator of that.
It was that night that I was inspired to write this article, after I had taken some time to just be with her and allow her some down-time in nature. For parents to become aware of the ingredients in their children’s food is very powerful. I was unaware of these issues with sugary food and additives in food until 8 years ago, but I am now so grateful for the information.
Inspired by my daughter and presentations by Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, where I also learnt about loving food choices.
By Rosie Bason, Mullumbimby, NSW
It’s never a one off situation either because once you have it in your system theres a craving for more of it that lasts a few days. If not addressed it becomes a continuous top-up.
Being a parent is about being responsible for helping children understand cause and effect and they learn most from observing their parents.
Parents tend to worry about what their children will get up to when they are teenagers whilst knowingly allowing them to pollute their bodies with sugar and additives in ever greater quantities when they are younger and suffering the consequences of the out of control behaviour that so often ensues.
However if children have grown up discussing the impact of their choices, dietary and otherwise, they are more likely to recognise when their choices as teenagers are not self-loving and that they have the option to make different choices.
I agree with you Helen, we are always talking to the children in our family about choices whether it is food or the consequences of behaviour. This way they have a clear understanding and then as they grow up they know they have a choice and it is then up to them which choice they make. You cannot stop anyone from making bad choices it is their free will and their learning, we as adults can lead by example by living a life that is enriching and inspiring.
When you break down what is on our birthday tables like that it is quite worrying and no surprise that we have addictions to sugar and food. With my public health hat on, I wonder if the food at kids parties starts a ‘treat’ mentality that transfers into adult life. The treats we look for at adult parties take on a slightly different make up but the aim is still the same – to alter the feeling so you can really ‘get into’ the party mood. Public health alarms going off left right and centre for addictions and health problems related to weight.
Parents are very slowly becoming more aware of the chemicals, sugar, preservatives, and additives in much of our food, and the effect this has on their children, ‘I totally understand that our children get excited, but they really do go mad at some parties and this may be because of food colourings, additives and preservatives, (and that’s all without considering the sugary foods themselves!), many of which have side effects that include hyperactivity.’ I totally agree Rosie.
Food for thought! And considering the amount of illness, disease, suicides, corruption and obesity maybe well worth the energy to eliminate these “chemical bombs” that have been so addictive in our behaviours.
In Dutch we have a saying along the lines: ‘learned you, done at old age’. If you experience as a child that it is perfectly okay to trash your body when you are young at parties, what behavior do we see with adults? It is super difficult to connect to yourself with these amounts of sugar / substances in your body and almost impossible to connect to others. But what are parties about then?
Thanks Rosie, it’s a simple case of observing children as the influx of false energy via the sugar sends their bodies into overload. I remember one Christmas many years ago my Mum had hidden a bag of toffees under her bed in preparation for Christmas Day. Our tiny dog had scratched open the bag and eaten some. The way we found out was our dog was racing sound the house, very speedy, and we couldn’t settle her down. We eventually found the bag of toffees and the empty wrappers and realised she was on a sugar high and had to walk her around the neighbourhood to help bring her out of it. Sugar has crept into our lives as a harmless “fun” substance but it’s very detrimental for the body.
True Rosie, we need to inform ourselves as parents, grandparents but basically all of us as the food industry will supply what we demand. Why do we have the idea when there is a party we have to spoil our kids with unhealthy treats, candies and junkfood. Is it our own relationship with food that’s in the way to be honest and clear about the effects certain foods have on our children, our grandchildren and on ourselves.
I would say yes, because in some way we know it is not healthy so we deny ourselves but then ‘live’ or ‘re-live’ the experience of that high and that supposed fun through our children or grandchildren.
Children learn from adults, adults learn from other adults and children learn from other children. The more I feel into my food, what is supportive and what is not for my body, that allows someone to learn from me.
Lovely and how cool, to have a mom like you ! Simply because we care about our children not consuming poison that makes us behave crappy.
I recently went to a kids party and I went towards the end to pick up my child and I was not surprised to see the array of junk food. What I also saw was a plate of veggies and broccoli on the table but most of the parents were eating them. The children seem to be more interested in the junk food and sweet treats.
There is more and more evidence about how sugar behaves in the body no different to alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. My experience in giving up sugar certainly highlighted the addictive stranglehold it has on us and it is no surprise that children’s behaviour goes haywire when sugar is consumed. The importance of developing awareness with how our bodies feel when we consume sugar and food in general is paramount for us living with true well-being and vitality, free from addictions and the artificial highs and the crash and burn that some foods such as those filled with sugar leave us feeling.
What I find really interesting is that if you don’t feed your child any sugar, you are considered an extremist, yet if you feed your child sugar and they go to the extreme behaviours, this is considered very normal.
It is interesting to see what we have normalised. I have normalised not eating sugar and I don’t have it in my house but for another that is very not normal!
Great point MW. I’ve had disapproving comments from a few people I know because I refuse to buy my children any treats with refine sugar in it. Sugary foods are considered as a treat and a reward in our society and going against the trend I find can sometime upset some people.
Thank you Elizabeth, us adults are affected just as much as the children, but we have become masters of numbing the effects the same foods have on us. And really if we are as adults are consuming this, it is no wonder that the children follow in our foot steps as we are their role model after all.
It is interesting now having a teenager and watching the choices she makes but what I really love is because she has had many years of not bombarding her body with loads of sugar, now when she chooses to have it, she can clearly feel the effects for herself.
Wow – I find the difference you describe between your daughter after a party eating sugary junk food and her after a party eating healthier food fascinating. For me I know sugar is a drug, because if I start eating it I actually can’t stop, it’s totally addictive and I start to feel different in myself. Parents must observe this difference in their kids so I find it interesting that they continue to provide them with food and drinks that completely change the behaviour, rather than searching for alternatives that leave a child free to be who they are.
I have done it myself, we give our children these things to please them, to be liked and there is actually no love in doing that!
I’ve seen this too, often parents want the emotional high of pleasing their kids by giving them unheathy treat foods, it’s like comfort eating but more aptly described as comfort feeding.
Something to appreciate is the way our body shows the truth of how food is for us. All we have to do is open our eyes and be willing to see that these substance can really hurt you and me. Then we can begin to make choices not based on taste buds or will power but a building of a body of Love. Thank you Rosie.
I have noticed it lately, I had some sugary foods and then found myself being really grumpy and talking in a nasty way and I shocked myself and then try to figure out what and why and I tracked it back to eating sugar.
I love what you’ve shared here Joseph, building a body of love supports us to say no to any unloving food choices. Going about this with will power and discipline I find doesn’t work.
Inspiring reading material Rosie. Parties with all the sugary stuff seem to be the normal, no wonder these parties get out off hand. What also seems to be the normal. Sounds similar to adult parties with lots of alcohol. Could it be that children get familiarized that way to crazy parties later in life?
That’s a great point Willem, it’s like we’re prepping them or getting them used to chemicals or substances that alter how they feel so that when it comes to the crazy parties as they grow up it’s not really any different.
This is my point…. we are training them young, that is how I see it.
I would say you are on to something here…the intensity is similar there are fights, screaming ,chaos, not so different from alcohol. Also something I have noticed is when my children have eaten sugar at parties they remind me of how I used to be after drinking, tripping over, bumps, bruises, grumpy and wired not really connecting with other people. Scary stuff, and something to look at as a society. As a parent we get to role model, so is it excess, indulgence or is it care and love. Be it food, work, life anything…what are our children learning?
We give our children such contradictory messages, sugar-laden ‘treats’ at birthday parties and then expecting them to process it without imposing their out of control behaviour on us. Children can feel the contradiction in that and someone recently shared with me how she had followed her daughter’s request for only sweet things at her birthday party and was shocked by the chaos that followed. As adults we need to take responsibility for what we are feeding our children but that involves us being willing to explore our own relationship with food as well which for many is very challenging.
It is challenging to look at our own relationship with food and treats and it is also very challenging to step outside the status quo, do something different, stand out and not fall into doing things that go against your grain just to please others and fit in.
Absolutely we need to be honest about how we eat and why, same with alcohol and why and how we drink as adults. If we can not honest about these behaviours ourselves it is really damaging for children to feel the hypocrisy of something being said but not lived. It is important to not just assume that what we consume is ‘normal’ just because it happens in society, it is worth questioning how it feels and how we behave after we have consumed it, so what feels true for us and our bodies. What we consume often hurts our bodies, develops illness and detrimentally effects our relationships, if we are exhausted, checked out, wired the connection we have with others is severely impacted. Just a pizza and a bottle of wine can from that one a Friday night…etc.
I see this with technology as well. Parents complain that their child is grumpy, uncooperative and aggressive. Yet don’t want to look at their own screen usage as they need it for whatever they need it for.
Yes so many choose to be blind to what is happening because they do not want to change their own behaviour.