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Changing our culture’s obsession with sugar one party at a time

| Date Posted: 3/25/2015

by Lynn Antil, certified health educator, FirstHealth Community Health Services

 

As a parent, I cringe when I pick up my child from school and see a bright blue ring around his mouth, evidence of yet another birthday party. 

Of course my child is quite happy until he later goes to the bathroom and asks why his poop is such a funny color.

I use this opportunity to talk to him about artificial colors found in processed foods and that it’s probably not a good idea to eat things that can do that to your poop!  Seeing unnatural colors in your toilet combined with the growing evidence linking artificial colors with hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children, it seems like a no-brainer that parents should try to avoid buying such products.

Of course it’s easy to say that people should avoid buying highly processed sugary treats until it is your child’s birthday or any holiday for that matter.  Our culture celebrates special events with not-so-healthy treats.  

So, what do we do?

The answer is to be creative!  For the past two years, I have celebrated my pre-school daughter’s birthday by planning a half-hour activity with her class.  The money I would have spent on cupcakes, I used to buy some simple crafts.  The kids had a blast because they were able to do something new with Caroline’s mom and I loved spending some quality time with my daughter and her friends.  If you consider that the teachers get a break from planning an activity for that period of time, it’s really a win-win-win!

And on Valentine’s Day? I knew my kids would want to give their friends something besides just a card, which would make them and me look like a Valentine’s scrooge.  I suggested we attach a mechanical pencil to the valentine card and they loved the idea.  A pencil that doesn’t need to be sharpened makes the school day better for everyone – kids and teachers!  My guess is that the other kids will enjoy their new mechanical pencil a lot longer than a sixth bag of skittles, had we decided to go the more traditional route.

I challenge everyone to try to be more creative when planning for an upcoming party.  Is there a way you can reduce the sugar without sacrificing the fun?  It really is easier than you think!

 

Do you have a creative non-candy treat?

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