Is this sugar high imaginary? Ask the gingerbread man…

This evening, after a long day at work attempting to stick to my post-holiday diet, I duly collected the kids and dashed to Toys-r-us to grab a pressie for a weekend party before heading to my brother’s birthday tea. Now admittedly, it doesn’t take much to knock me off my diet (self-control and willpower are not my strong points) but this combination of factors left me stood in Toys-r-us in desperate need of a sugar burst.

Naturally, I resisted this temptation because this time I really mean business on the dieting front.

Nah, of course I didn’t! I bought a bag of Fruit Pastilles.

Given that my children were with me at the point of purchase, I stood little chance of secreting them in the side pocket of the car and stuffing them surreptitiously into my mouth at intervals (and I generally get found out doing that anyway as a voice will pipe up from the back to ask where the rustling noise is coming from!), so I decided to split them between the three of us.

Once Ana had counted out our rations into three neat piles, we each had a surprisingly large share leading me to wonder if this was such a good idea after all….because despite mixed research evidence, I am reasonably convinced of a direct link between excess sugar consumption and giggling hysterical madness in my youngest daughter.

I remember watching a programme on TV a few years ago where they did a study into the effects of sugary party foods. As I recall, they compared the behaviour of kids at a party where they ate lots of sugary food with a group who had only healthy grub and found, much to everyone’s surprise, that there appeared to be no difference and that it seemed the excitement of the party situation was responsible for the shrieking madness rather than the food.

Now, I am not generally one to disagree with the findings of scientific research, but my own anecdotal evidence tells me this cannot be a universal explanation. I have never noticed any particular change in Ana’s behaviour after eating sugary foods, but Faith is a whole other ball game.

Just a whiff of chocolate seems to send her into a mad delirium and you could set your watch by monitoring her behaviour after she has eaten a whole packet of sweets. Give her 15 minutes and she is laughing like a hyena; babbling incoherently; and bouncing off the walls…..surely I can’t be imagining that?

One memorable occasion that first made me suspicious of the sugar demons occurred one Christmas Eve when Faith was probably 2 or 3. Remarkably, I had actually managed to achieve one of my goals for creating an idyllic family Christmas and we had spent the previous day constructing a pretty impressive Gingerbread house (admittedly not from scratch – from an Ikea gingerbread flat pack – but impressive all the same) and it was sitting on the kitchen side awaiting its destruction over the Christmas period.

An hour before we were due to set off for the children’s Christmas Eve Nativity service at our local church, I discovered a scene of devastation in the kitchen: Faith, stood on a dining room chair, surrounded by the crumbling walls of the now demolished house, gingerbread smearing her mouth and betraying her guilt….Christmas had come early to the youngest member of the household.

But Christmas must continue and after a quick clean-up we set off for church with a serene angel (Ana) and an increasingly fidgety donkey (Faith). Despite our best efforts to find a discrete perch at the back we ended up in a packed church in a very visible position a few rows from the front. The perfect place for a meltdown.

And meltdown she did. As bigger, braver children read beautifully at the front and proud parents strained to listen, my errant donkey started to chatter loudly and run up and down the pew like a wild Pamplona bull. As the minutes ticked by, the battle to imbue Faith with some of the Christmas Eve tranquility surrounding us was clearly failing and eventually I had to admit defeat and escort my kicking, screaming charge to the back of the church.

Exhausted and defeated, we headed home feeling a little sorry for ourselves. But as our flagging feet hit the doorstep and we wondered how we would find the energy to wrap all those last minute presents, we suddenly remembered that we had the perfect antidote sitting on our kitchen sideboard…..the ruins of a gingerbread house: the perfect recuperative sugar burst!

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