Instead of Home-Made Cake
Parenting can be a pain in the ass.
While your little ones totter happily, you’re scanning for danger 24/7. You spend hours shopping organic, feeding them right, making sure they sleep and trying not to fly off the handle when they drive you nuts.
Which they will.
And you’re so glad — SO GLAD — when they finally go to school and for a few hours you’re blissfully off duty and back in your REAL life, having handed them over to the professionals who will nurture and care for them just like you.
Except with added sugar.
Like you haven’t, literally, got enough on your plate.
School’s Gotten Scary
A friend of mine has a little boy with a birthday approaching. Having had her own health journey she raised him healthy and he is a strong, bright, low-sugar kinda guy.
So she approached his teacher, assuming a home-baked, nut-free cake, devoid of sugar, flavourings and additives, would be a welcome treat to share with his classmates.
The school asked for Haribo instead.
As a parent I can’t be the only one who finds it frightening that sugar, glucose syrup and starch are apparently “Easier.”
Particularly for an educational institution.
School’s Are Afraid
The mum offered full disclosure on her list of ingredients but the school would not relent.
Or perhaps their insurance policy wouldn’t.
Imagine another child had an allergic reaction to the “allergy-free” cake. Then the school, not the home-baking mum, would be liable. Whereas Haribo sweets are available everywhere for mass consumption and so the risk to the school is negated.
Another victory for health and safety ridiculousness over every day common sense.
Do Head Teachers Really Care About Kids?
Another mum I know went to talk to her headmistress about sugar in school. She was told that, as this particular school did not have a problem with childhood obesity, she should direct her remarks to the government, because change needs to start from the top.
Here’s the problem with that.
- Clearly she’s never heard of David and Goliath
- Obesity wasn’t even on the mum’s list.
Sugar impacts a child’s brain in a way that’s far more important to teachers than the immediate risk of obesity. Most teachers want calm, balanced, attentive kids, so would be delighted with less sugar at school. Not to mention improved immunity and better class attendance!
It’s Not The School’s Fault
We are all culturally conditioned to use sugar as a reward.
When I was a kid, I worked in my grandparents launderette during the school holidays. After a hard day cleaning the machines and helping customers my grandfather would lovingly make me a special sandwich — white bread, butter and a generous sprinkling of white sugar.
To my beloved grandfather, who had lived through the war and rationing, sugar was a treat to share with me, and indeed, sugar was once a “fine spice” and precious possession.
Now it’s a cheap, bulk commodity stripped of it’s minerals and used in everything, usually with fat and salt, to hit our bliss points and keep us craving more.
As parents we are learning and adjusting the way we nourish our kids, but it takes time, and we need support from our schools.
How Schools Need To Change
A few years ago my son won a school award. His prize? A giant bar of cheap chocolate. Luckily he brought it home to show me and was happy enough for me to reward him with something else and discretely dispose of the damaged fat with added flavour.
When he goes on a school trip the packed lunch is a sandwich, packet of crisps, chocolate bar and fruit flavoured drink laden with sugar.
Healthy? Nutritious? Not a chance.
How We Can Help
I don’t want to bash schools, really I don’t. But if you care about your kid’s health (and their grades) then now’s the time to speak up.
Here are some ways we can help out as parents:
1.Get creative for birthdays
A woman I know sends in colourful erasers for her child to share out on his birthday. Another sends a bag of juicy tangerines. We have options outside of processed sugar.
2.Make next Halloween Haribo free
Or better yet, junk free.
Most kids throw away half the sweets they amass because they feel sick after the initial candy overload. Let’s offer them healthy treats instead. Still sweet but with a smidgin of nutritional value.
Or let’s try better tricks — the son of a friend was offered a bowl of satsumas as a trick and the woman could not believe it when he whooped in delight. He’s a fruit fan 🙂
3.Make sure the biggest gift we give our kids this Christmas isn’t Diabetes
Chocolates on the tree and in their advent calendars, sugary treats in their stockings, sickly desserts followed by after dinner chocolates. Let’s do less, let’s do good quality dark chocolate, let’s make a difference.
Parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever love.
Modelling healthy choices at home may be your biggest challenge but it’s worth it. A foster mum I met hosted a young lad who’d been raised on junk. After three weeks on her healthy home-cooked diet he turned to her and said,
I never knew I could feel this good
This is why we need to show up at school and ask for change. Because when you work hard to keep them safe and healthy, only to be sabotaged by a sugar infestation at school, it sucks.
Our job, as woke and conscious adults is to walk the talk at home and tackle our head teachers. If they refuse to acknowledge the connection between nutrition and performance, perhaps the simplest thing is to suggest they go back to school 😉
A head teacher’s job is not easy, but they can’t keep blaming health and safety and saying their hands are tied. If they really care about the welfare and education of children then part of their job is to champion better nutrition in school.
And that should include healthy home made cake!
Want to know how to help wean your child off sugar? Watch this free 6min video to discover my secret weapon against sugar cravings