Well, contrary to the wide-held beliefs of just a few years ago, sugar doesn’t make children hyper. What researchers say is to blame for all that explosion of energy that comes right out of the blue is food additives, such as artificial flavours and dyes. In fact, it’s been evidenced since 1973 by allergist Dr. Benjamin Feingold!
What has caused all the confusion that has led many of us to believe that sugar makes children hyperactive is that it was grouped under the food additives category. If a child consumes too much sugar for long periods of time, he/she will potentially have to deal with obesity or diabetes. Otherwise, having a large amount of sugar can affect their attention span and create high adrenaline levels, which lead to symptoms which are very similar to hyperactivity.
So, what can you do if you are having your child’s birthday party and want to serve drinks that won’t send your guests hyper? How do you make these drinks tasty and healthy at the same time? Maybe, we can help. Below are some suggestions, as well as a list of the worst drinks for children, so you know what you need to avoid!
1. Orange Freeze
For this recipe, you will need to line glasses with orange slices and set them in the freezer for a while. Combine orange juice and milk and once the cooling orange slices are firm, remove them from the freezer and fill the glasses with the mixture you have made.
2. Real Strawberry Milk
With no sugar at all and only low-fat milk and hulled strawberries, this drink is an excellent idea to serve at a kids’ party without worrying about having a whirlwind in your living room afterwards. You just mix in a blender, garnish with a strawberry and serve!
Since most lemonade concentrates include artificial flavours, why not make your own homemade lemonade to serve instead? As you will see below, it can become your basic ingredient for a number of other child-appropriate drinks. You could also combine lemons with oranges and come up with an orange lemonade that’s also delicious and refreshing or even blend strawberries, lime and rhubarb!
Tip: If you don’t want to use any sugar in any of the drinks, there are many alternative ways to sweeten lemonade, such as using honey, stevia, agave, coconut sugar and more.
4. Watermelon Lemonade
This recipe will probably put you in the kitchen at a time when you might want to chill out, but you can always get someone to help make the drinks! Use the homemade lemonade recipe above and add pureed watermelon. Add water, sugar (or one of the aforementioned alternative sweeteners), and stir well. Garnish with mint, add some ice (ice cubes in funny shapes will be eye-popping) and thin slices of watermelon (optional) and serve to the little misters and misses.
5. Mint Chocolate Milkshake
The basic recipe will give you a creamy consistency, because of the frozen bananas used, but there are so many variations to give you more inspiration! Milk, yogurt, unsweetened cocoa powder, peppermint extract, and a handful of spinach combine and make a delicious and healthy drink, perfect for kids and any occasion they may want something special!
6. Fruity Tea Pop
No, we won’t be using regular soft drinks that contain 7 teaspoons of sugar per glass on average and come loaded with artificial colouring and additives. Not, that we are avoiding sugar because it’ll make kids hyper. We’re just providing the best and healthiest drinks for a kids’ party or special occasion that won’t make them hyperactive and provide them with some nutritional value at the same time. If your child is simply thirsty, just give them some water.
To make fruity tea pop, you’ll need to pick your child’s favourite herbal tea (mint, pomegranate, cranberry, blackcurrant, lemon, chamomile, etc.) and steep enough tea bags in boiling water and then chill.
Note: A study has shown that herbal remedies seem to improve behavior, as well as help deal with anxiety and mood disorders, so there is another added benefit to serving teas and herbs to our children. Scientists suggest we give bacopa, ginkgo, lemon balm, rosemary, gotu kola and lavender to our children to help increase the circulation in the brain.
7. Chocolate Milkshake
Hot milk, cocoa powder and half an avocado make a tasty milkshake that you can serve the little ones totally guilty-free. You can also make vanilla milkshakes, by using organic vanilla essence (rather than syrup), milk and again, half an avocado. Or you could go for fruity milkshakes, and blend bananas, strawberries and milk. Lots of fibre and flavour all in one glass!
Note: Instead of cow’s milk, you can also use soy milk, almond or rice milk.
8. Fruit Smoothies
Blend bananas, blueberries and avocados and you will have a tasty, creamy treat full of the right fats and many of the nutrients your child needs to be energetic (but not go crazy) and healthy.
Tip: Name your smoothies or milkshakes to make them more enticing! For example, a green smoothie could be “Shrek juice” while a blueberry one can be “Princess Elsa smoothie”! Kids will love the idea and compete who will empty their glass first!
9. Flavoured Water
Jamie Oliver, a well-known kids’ health advocate, has some incredible ideas about jazzing up plain water and turning it into a great alternative to fizzy drinks. In one of his recipes, he uses fresh lemon, orange, strawberries, fresh mint, and cucumber but you can let your imagination create other recipes, too. You can also use, Jamie says, herbs and even edible flowers! Now, that’s a challenge!
10. Watermelon turned into a…drink dispenser!
This is an idea that will make the children go wow. The genius mind behind it says you only need a watermelon and a spigot kit (a bit like a beer keg tap). Just cut off the top of the watermelon and scoop out all the flesh (set this aside as you will need it to make a “punch”). Get rid of any excess liquid, add the spigot according to instructions, and then blend strawberries (pulp strained) and the Watermelon flesh you scooped out earlier. The original recipe also includes a shot of vodka and some campari, too, but since you’ll be doing this for a kid’s party there is no need to add those!! The watermelon and strawberry juice will be equally satisfying. Plus, the fact that the little ones will have to use the tap to fill their cups will make them come back for more…and more…
11. Watermelon and Strawberry Lemonade
Although this recipe uses two summer fruits, you can use any fruit of your choice, depending on your child’s likes. You just combine all the ingredients (two pieces of fruit, homemade lemonade, water and some sugar) and you are pretty much done. You can garnish with halved strawberries, thin lemon slices or party printables that match the theme of your party!
12. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
As previously mentioned, with smoothies and milkshakes, they sky’s the limit. To make this one, you blend bananas, peanut butter, milk, honey and ice cubes for a few seconds until smooth and serve in small bottles with printable bottle wrappers per the theme of the birthday party!
What drinks NOT to serve at a kids’ party
1. Coloured drinks
Studies suggest there is an association between food dyes and hyperactive behaviours. So, there’s no reason to take any unnecessary chances and serve overly processed foods that contain food dyes. This includes sports drinks, too. Not only because children don’t need them, but also because they offer nothing of particular nutritional value. Better throw a piece of fruit in the blender and then dilute with water and serve than these.
2. Fizzy Drinks
Any drink with additives should be avoided as it makes children hyper. A government-funded study has shown that the artificial food colourings Carmoisine E122 (a colouring that’s been used for many years already), Sunset Yellow E110, Tartrazine E102, Ponceau 4R E124 and the preservative Sodium Benzoate E211 all have significant impact on children’s behaviour. Those behaviours include temper and concentration tantrums, inability to go to sleep in a calm manner, tendency to interrupt and disturb other people and peers, and fiddling with objects, among others.
3. Caffeinated Cola
Alan Hirsch, researcher and neurological director of a foundation in Chicago, said at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association that children who were given caffeinated cola for an entire week, demonstrated hyperactive behaviours that were five time more intense than their counterparts who drank non-caffeinated soda. They appeared to have a substantial increase in activity right after drinking the caffeinated beverage, and, to make matters even worse, these children were noticed preferring caffeinated beverages rather than caffeine-free drinks.
Besides spiking children’s hyperactive behaviours, food dyes and food additives also cause a series of problems for kids with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), report studies published in various scientific journals suggest. This means that a combination of Fruit Loops, a blueberry muffin and a Ribena carton are enough to worsen the symptoms of any child with ADHD.
That aside, a more recent study has found that even children with no Attention Deficit Disorder are also negatively affected by the preservative sodium benzoate, as well as the artificial flavours and colouring.
Reports from parents who have seen a noticeable change in their children’s behaviour after drinking squash are increasing by the day. Some say the beverage has caused an increase in boisterousness. No wonder Carlton Central Infant School in Nottingham has banned drinking squash.
What is amazing with food-related hyperactivity is that it can lead to other serious problems. If a child finds it difficult to calm down, go to bed, and struggle to focus, one can understand that it can have an adverse effect not only on the child’s performance at school, but also on his or her health. When a child struggles to switch off enough to get a sound night’s sleep, they may suffer from sleep deprivation, which can cause a series of mood disorders and possible body dysfunctions.
It is incredible to believe is that we can easily balance our children’s hyperactivity at normal levels by simply changing their dietary habits! That is, if the child is not suffering from ADHD, of course, although diet changes can also help there, too.
Reference also Used:
Food additives and Hyperactive Behaviour in 3-Year-Old and 8/9-Year-Old Children in The Community: A Randomised, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial (D. McCann et al.). The Lancet, 370 (9598), 1560–1567 (2007).