One of my biggest pet hates is watching parents feed their children junk food. I am not referring to Paleo or not Paleo, I’m talking fast foods such as McDonalds and KFC and junk food including lollies, chocolates and all other high sugar snacks, those that are blatantly unhealthy and bad for your child’s health.
More than 200,000 Australian children aged between 2 -15 are obese, more than 20,000 of them are aged 2-4. These increasing levels of childhood obesity have also filtered through to adults, with 60% of Australian adults now classified as “obese”.
We need to change what we feed our children, NOW. It starts when they begin eating. Good eating habits need to start early. If you allow bad habits to be created at a young age they will continue into their adolescence and then adulthood.
As the title of my post suggests, my daughters first birthday is approaching. When you have a child you invariably begin associating with other parents with newborns and young children of a similar age. As other parents would be aware, there comes a time when you seem to have a child’s birthday to go to each week!
I absolutely respect every parents right to do what they believe is best for their child and have whatever sort of birthday party they want. Having said that, as I attend each birthday party, I become more and more bemused at what I see. Invariably, you walk into a room where parents seem to beam with pride at the themed array of lollies, cupcakes, lollipops, candy, fairy bread, chocolates, cakes and so much more that they have prepared for everyone to see and eat. Of course, the obligatory small platter of fruit and tray of bagels/sandwiches are also there, but it is a token inclusion on the menu.
The parents there seem to justify allowing their kids to eat the above because “it’s a birthday and a one off” or “it’s ok, it’s not like he/she has it every week” . Here’s the reality though, it is every week, much as you like deny it. There are birthdays and special occasions near enough to every week, and every week your child is subjected to eating these sugary foods. Not to mention the unhealthy snacks they have at home as treats regardless of parties they may attend.
I may sound like I’m being critical or judgmental; I do not mean to be. As I continue to learn with my own daughter, feeding babies and young children is painfully hard at times. You cannot feed them meat and vegies all the time! Much as you may try, they will develop a desire and liking for sweeter tasting things. When you take them to birthdays or parties, they will want to eat the attractively displayed junk food, just like all the other kids (and parents).
I simply wish there was a desire and commitment from parents to put on parties where the focus isn’t on serving up treats and junk food. This does not mean Paleo either. I think having a one year old birthday where the entire menu is Paleo would be very hard to do. I am definitely not saying to deprive your child of a 1st birthday cake either! At the same time, you do not need to serve up tables upon tables of lollies, cupcakes, lollipops, candy, fairy bread, chocolates, cakes and more.
Partly, I believe parents don’t have the slightest clue on the potential health risks associated with regularly allowing their kids to consume high sugar snacks and foods. Mainly, the onset of obesity and the challenges and illnesses this can lead to as they grow older.
As my daughter’s birthday approaches, I find myself having to compromise my own beliefs and perhaps unrealistic ideals in regard to what foods we can offer our guests. My wife (who lets say is partially Paleo at best!), and I are both motivated to try and come up with a balanced healthy menu that provides healthy “treats” and foods for the kids and adults. IT’S HARD!
If anyone has any tips and advice for healthy food options for a 1 year old birthday party then I’d love to hear them!