Monday, 20 February 2012

Sugar and Spice, and All Things Nice

There is a rhyme in English that goes like this:

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of !"
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of!"

However, here in the Netherlands, it's not just the girls full of sugar and all things nice... it's boys too. Or at least that is the impression I get when I look at typical Dutch breakfast and lunch tables or restaurant choices for kids here. 

For some reason I still don't get after more than a decade here, the Dutch give their children sprinkles and chocolate flakes on bread for breakfast or (maybe even and) lunch. Sugar on bread in essence. And not occasionally or as in a once-a-year-treat-because-it's-your-birthday kind of way. Daily. As in every day. 

Sugar, Sugar and a Little More Sugar
(c) Amanda van Mulligen
Restaurants directed at children either serve fried stuff or sweet stuff for kids. Pancake houses are good examples.... many offer pancakes especially for children. This typically means putting lots of sweets on a pancake, usually in the shape of a face, or providing a child with bowls of various sweet varieties containing more sugar than you would want your child to consume in a decade, let alone during the consumption of one pancake. Don't get me wrong, a pancake house every now and then is a great treat and lots of fun. But sometimes it would be nice to have other options.....

Kid's Menu from The Three Tuns Pub in Reading,
When we visit the UK I am always struck that there is such a huge difference and kid's menus are not always unhealthy. Pasta with sauces (including those with hidden vegetables) are often available, or simply the same meals offered to adults but put out in smaller portions for the kids. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to come up with something that isn't fried or isn't sugar to feed to restaurant going children. Does it? Well, that's my take on it and it's been a source of irritation for at least five years now. Ever since I became a mother and adopted the "you're not eating sweets every day" approach to parenting.

Luckily I am not alone. Let me introduce you to It is the initiative of Susan Aretz and Annemieke Dubbeldeman who were also fed up with the limited offerings for their children whilst eating out. They set up a site to put restaurants with healthier options for children on the map. It's all new, work in progress but an exciting development. It's worth taking a look at so that maybe next time you want to eat out with your children you don't end up in a pancake house...

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