The Great Birthday Cake Debate
Should children be allowed to share cake with their class when it's their birthday? This question opens up a Pandora's box of opinions and can result in justifiable comments for both sides of the argument. It is not the cake itself that is the issue. It is the altruism of sharing sweets vs the benefits of good health. Both are so important.
Altruism (feelings and behavior that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness) is what we want to instill in our children. We are being altruistic when we agree to purchase a sprinkle covered icecream because Mr Whippy just pulled up and our kids faces are beaming. There should not be guilt associated with treating our children. This is where the message of good health can be so confusing. I love to treat my children and I think there are very few parents who don't. But personally, I don't want cakes in schools every time a child has a birthday.
Why? Because our children are facing an overweight and obesity epidemic. One in four children are overweight or obese and the numbers keep rising. I'm not talking specifically about my children. I'm talking about our children, our city's and our nation's children. Not every child has a healthy balanced diet at home. Not every child is able to do so much extra-curricular activity that they burn off excess kilojoules. 20 serves of cake per year may affect some children's health in a very negative way. By not taking cake to school we can be equally altruistic.
To recognise the feelings beneath this great debate puts everyone in the same boat. We all want the best for our children. Being healthy does not mean losing the will to be giving and loving. It is so important to acknowledge where the act of cake sharing is coming from. It comes from such a good place. But is it time to get with the times? To be more creative in our altruism? To see the bigger picture when it comes to health?
Ultimately, taking cake to school or not has become a choice which should not be placed upon individual parents. My daughter's preschool has a 'bring cake' policy and I didn't have the heart to say no. I took in 20 cupcakes, her friend had the same birthday so there became 40 cupcakes.
Schools need to create policies, however, parents need to voice there concerns clearly and without blame. We all love our kids, we all love cake. Lets show true compassion and share in our own homes within healthy guidelines, food that we can monitor. Health be to all!!
Do you want to broach the subject with your school committee?
Jody Seaton is a health educator with 14 years experience teaching food technology in schools. She is an ambassador for 'That Sugar Film' and hosts informative and interactive seminars for schools and the community. Phone 0421160906 or go to www.foodhealth.com.au