Kids, Carbs, and Connecting Mind and Body for Health

August 31, 2011

When it comes to raising kids, sometimes there is not a lot of thought going on.

Last weekend, I attended my nephew’s 3-year old birthday party. There were probably 15 other kids around his age there. Let’s take a look at what was on the menu:

1. Capri Sun. Ohhh, but this is the 100% fruit juice one! Still, there is probably as much sugar as there is in soda.

2. Corn chips. Yummy, salty, & addictive!

3. Candy, LOTS of candy. In fact, there was not just one, but TWO pinatas, filled with Tootsie Rolls, Dum Dums, Sweettarts, and some unknown white chocolate treats. Kids had pockets full of this stuff that’s usually reserved for Halloween!

4. Pizza! What kids birthday party would be complete without pizza?

5. And of course, cake, because their insulin levels needed to be jacked up just a little more!

I’m pretty sure I was the only one in attendance who saw anything wrong with the eating agenda. And, I know what you might be thinking: “Don’t be such a party pooper! Live a little once in a while!” I do get that this isn’t a daily thing for most of the kids (at least lets hope not). However, I’m looking more at the question of why do we as a society feel that carb craziness is just part of life as a kid, particularly at a birthday party?

I think it comes down to this. Most of us grew up with this same sort of routine carb indulgence around holidays and birthdays. Many still do participate in this on a regular basis. So, we think “we turned out okay, why should I deprive my kid?” Or, it’s simply that questioning the premise here is just too difficult.

Imagine serving healthy snacks like beef jerky, instead of junk food?
What if they didn’t get juice and had to drink…water?
And, wouldn’t it be sac-religious to not have birthday cake??

So it comes down to keeping social connections in tact and not rocking the boat and risking isolation from friends.

You see, it all comes down to self esteem, and being able to individualize when you know what is the best route to take, even if that means going against the stream.

I think there’s a way to “have your cake and eat it too” here (and not even have to serve cake!). Some things can be outright skipped, i.e. pinata hitting can be replaced with another game that doesn’t involve candy. Soda or juice can be sparkling water or even some semi-healthy drinks like flavored coconut water or the low sugar Vitamin Water. Vegetable chips over corn chips, steak instead of pizza, and are you ready….a paleo dessert like this chocolate custard instead of cake!

It all may sound insane at first glance, but a healthy and still fun kids birthday party is all totally doable. You may get questioned by your friends at first, but who knows, you may influence them in some way by leading by example, and showing what a healthy family looks like!

What about you? What do your birthday parties look like?

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3 comments on “Kids, Carbs, and Connecting Mind and Body for Health

  1. Michelle Aug 31, 2011

    I’ll make sure to put beef jerky in that pinata next year, or maybe just get a side of beef and let them hit that! Seriously, Kev, most parents probably threw the candy away when they got home, I know that is what I do after my kids eat a piece or two. The fun was breaking the pinatas, not the candy (There were only 2 because the store gave me one for free.) It doesn’t have anything to do with risking isolation, most people know that celebrating with junk doesn’t mean that is how you normally eat. And you left out the fact that a huge green salad, a veggie and dip platter, a huge fruit salad and plenty of water was served as well. Lots of healthy options. (The corn chips were for Dad. :))

    I guess my question to you would be why does everyone have to eat perfectly at all times? Whats wrong with trying your best most of the time but, as you yourself said “living a little” and having fun with food you know isn’t healthy on occasion? Does that really hurt your health so much?

  2. Haha thanks for the comment, I have to get my material somewhere since I don’t have kids right? Yeah I know you guys do pretty good most of the time but just trying to get the ideas out there that there are alternatives…wasn’t trying to single you out because I know it’s all pretty standard and this party was probably better than most! As far as being perfect, you may want to see my last post on “Extremism in Nutrition”. I don’t think it’s a matter of perfection but doing the 80/20 or 85/15 and spreading around that 20 or 15% instead of doing it all at once.

  3. Michelle Aug 31, 2011

    I’ll give you some more material, believe me I do know families whose kids drink soda daily and think a giant bowl of Teddy Grahams is a good after school snack. (Sadly some of these kids are obese.) And I know the two pinatas were over the top! But I do think most families around here at least are more concious of healthy eating. At least more so that we were kids. I won’t ruin your cred by telling anyone that you used to drink Coke ice cream floats! :)

    By the way I like the Paleo cookbook you sent, though I’m using it more for lunch ideas for myself. I have found that I NEED to eat low-carb lunches, otherwise I crash in the afternoons.

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