On Occasion

I remember several years ago when my wife and I took our then 1-year-old son to his annual pediatric well visit. Just to test the doctor, I asked her what she thought about ice cream. She said: Well, a child never NEEDS ice cream (although the occasional birthday party is harmless). I have been in love ever since, and appreciative of a gutsy answer rarely articulated at a pediatrician’s office.

Let’s talk about kids’ birthday parties. The typical fare from a bounce house factory makes McDonald’s look like a farmers’ market. Then there’s the tidal wave of sugar, starting with a birthday cake that feeds 50. Next up cupcakes, which contain in one bite the Big Ag axis of evil—sugar, seed oil, and refined grains. You’ve got bowls of ice cream. Boxes of juice. In Latin American culture, there’s also the smashing of a piñata, where candy literally rains down on the kids. I went to a party a few weeks ago where the cake’s red frosting was so concentrated that we had to scrub our son’s hands afterwards to remove the stain from his skin.

I wish these gatherings were only occasional. However, in addition to my social circle’s regular weekend events, there’s also whatever celebrations are happening out of view during my son’s school day.

When I do see my son stuffing his piehole, I’m sure I visibly wince, but I’m flat out scandalized observing the adults indulge in the same way. It’s the definition of mindless eating—parents socializing and scooping into their mouths whatever junk happens to be sitting on the table. To be fair, you see the same kind of insulin insensibility in the office breakroom, with employees grazing on the pastries, bagels, and donuts their well-meaning colleagues brought in to share.

At all junctures, I politely refuse everything and sit quietly and uneasily with the knowledge of what everyone else is doing to their health. Like I wrote in April:

It’s hard to overstate the damage sugar causes to every system in the body. Two at-random bad things about sugar I’ve come across recently:

–>Sugar interferes with the way ferritin stores iron in your body. Sugar causes ferritin to release the free iron it was holding, which is toxic to cells and a catalyst for the formation of free radicals.
–>Sugar breaks down collagen, leading to less attractive skin, and weaker bones and connective tissue.

Yet, people look at me like I’m the weirdo who carries on with the oddball diet.

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