So your little one is having a birthday party…. I’ve been to a few where the delightful sound of children giggling can turn into a fiasco of shrieking and yelling. Children whizzing past so fast they are a blur and rapidly turning from being over-excited to cranky and teary in the blink of an eye.
A common culprit can be sugar rich foods in high amounts in a short space of time. In fact, I recall my own nephew after consuming too much sugar and ice-cream in one sitting becoming a possessed four year old that started madly running and screaming “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” He was right, we couldn’t catch him so had to wait until he exhausted himself!
Studies have linked food preservatives (such as Sodium Benzoate 211) and other food additives and colours with hyperactivity in children. Just some of the colours observed to have adverse effects were Sunset yellow (110), Quinoline yellow (104), Carmoisine (122), Allura red (129, Tartrazine (102) and Ponceau 4R (124) but there are many others to be wary of.
There are some great tools to help you understand the complex world of artificial colours and flavours. You can download an App on your phone such as “The Chemical Maze” or similar so that you can look up codes whilst you are shopping and check if they are unsafe.
Something else important to consider is that you are having other people’s children over and are responsible for them too. Do you know if they have any intolerances? Perhaps allergies? Some may be more sensitive to sugar than others while a few may already have a hyperactivity disorder or other condition. Fairy bread, lollies, cakes, hotdogs, chips, chocolate, soft drinks etc can be a recipe for disaster for some little one’s immune, digestive or nervous system.
Children love colour and so much is found in nature. For example, instead of using red food dye, use fresh beetroot juice or strawberry juice. If you want blue then some blueberry juice is amazing, spinach to make green, even a little turmeric can give a wonderful yellow. You don’t need much so flavour is not such an issue. Instead of using icing sugar for cakes, use cream cheese or make cashew nut cheese (soak cashews over night, then blend well) and colour with the above juices.
There are many gluten-egg-nut free recipes out there – go exploring websites for some inspiration – there is a plethora of great party ideas.
Carve out a watermelon into a shark or dinosaur and fill it with cut fruit kebabs, make little homemade gluten-free pizzas, homemade popcorn, your own chicken nuggets crumbed with Linseed-Almond-Sunflower (LSA) meal, homemade meat balls and if you have a dehydrator you can make your own banana chips or other dried goodies. The list is endless.
If you are not sure if your child has a problem with food but is displaying issues with sleep, behaviour, digestive disturbances, mood disorders, or other health issues. It may be worthwhile seeing a qualified health practitioner to assess their health and see if food intolerances are contributing.
Words: Cassi Cowlam. BHSc (Nat)