I know that Gavin’s eating habits haven’t quite gotten off to the “good” start I had always envisaged when I was pregnant, but I think we’ve done a fairly good job of steering him away from sweets and plain sugar. You might ask why should a sweet be any worse than a piece of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream, well, perhaps it stems from my dental background.
Firstly, sweets offer no other nutritional content, except the ability to make children go high and increase negative behaviours. Chocolate, at least, has antioxidants, some essential minerals (magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, postassium and manganese), and vitamins (A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid). Chocolate also increases the levels of serotonine in the brain (which is part of the reason why women with PMS often find eating chocolate to be soothing). Ice cream is dairy and while its benefits may not be as great as drinking pure milk, it does at least provide something.
Secondly, sweets – especially the sticky ones – have a tendency to linger around in the mouth for long periods, whereas chocolate and ice cream will simply melt and be washed away by the saliva. There are plenty of dental studies showing that the risk of caries development is increased by prolonged exposure of the oral environment to sugar. The presence of sugar increases the acidity levels in the mouth which leads to tooth decay.
What’s all the gripe about sweets about?
Well, I had always hoped that being at school might help to improve Gavin’s eating habits. Indeed it has because I’ve noticed he’s been picking the healthier options from the snacks I send to school. For instance, he usually takes the yoghurt and cheese and sometimes the muesli bar and occasionally the biscuits.
However, it was with some dismay when I picked Gavin up from school yesterday to discover he had with him a party pack (from another child’s birthday) that was full of sweets. The only thing inside it that I was willing to offer Gavin was the Ultra-Man mask. There was nothing inside the bag that I would have allowed Gavin to eat if it had been in our house. Thankfully he fell asleep in the car and I hid the bag of junk before he woke up from his afternoon nap.
Why don’t they make “healthier” party packs? I realise that the healthier options generally tend to cost more and the makers of the party packs are probably just trying to be cost effective. Personally, I would rather see less items in the party pack but more value from them. Something for party pack makers to think about?