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Tricky Side of Birthday Treats

04/19/2014 11:30AM ● Published by Hood Magazine

By Greta Stewart, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center 

 


Punch. Cake. Candy. These are the staples at just about any birthday party. But remember, there’s always too much of a good thing, especially in children who have a lot of energy to begin with. So when you’re attending or hosting a birthday party, what can you do to keep the sugar highs at a minimum?

Kara Bruning, a pediatrician at Avera Medical Group McGreevy Pediatrics South says if your child has too much sugar in his or her system, they’re going to have a lot of energy, which can translate into a negative reaction. “They may be somewhat crabby as they do not know what to do with their energy,” she says. “So now is the time to get them active!”

But to avoid the temptation of overdoing it on the sweets altogether, parents should feed their children more nuts, beans, cheeses, eggs, and peanut butter, along with complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.  However, as many moms can attest, a task like this is often easier said than done, especially if you are dealing with picky eaters. Here are some tips for controlling your children’s sugar intake, including some they won’t even notice.

  • Think small. Serve treats like ice cream in smaller dishes like teacups, rather than soup bowls.
  • Teach kids to be choosy. Allow your children to have one sugary treat per day, for example. They’ll learn to wait for their favorite treats and turn down the rest.
  • Avoid processed foods. As a general rule, food with less packaging will also include less sugar.
  • Skip the soda. Ditch the “liquid candy” by helping your kids make their own fizzy drinks. By mixing juice and seltzer, kids can mix up any flavored drink they want.
  • Change the recipe. Many times you can bake foods with only half the required amount of sugar or substitute brown sugar as a healthier alternative.
  • Top it off. Instead of those high in sugar, use unsweetened cereal and top it off with dried or fresh fruits for flavor.
  • Keep healthy foods handy. Leave fresh or dried fruits in bowls around the house. When the kids want a snack, it will be the first thing they grab.

Dr. Bruning says if your child eats too much sugar/junk food, the easiest way to fix it is to stop buying it. “I know that can be hard,” she says. “Kids will be exposed to junk food at daycare, school, and so many other places. Parents have a hard time controlling that. However, they can stop or significantly decrease the amount that is brought into the house.”
 
If your child has already had too much at the birthday party and now has a sugar high, Dr. Bruning recommends finding a creative way to burn off that energy.  “Having them watch TV will most likely not work,” she explains. “I would have them run races around the house, go on a scavenger hunt of items around the house, or play outside with close supervision. Keeping them active may help. I would keep them hydrated, and realize that with that much sugar, they may get tired when that sugar wears off.”

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