Birthday Cake Ban – Seriously?

Birthday cake debate

Photo credit: mandarinaAsesina via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Another birthday tradition is poised to bite the dust.  In the midst of the current dietary campaign against sugar, birthday cakes are facing ban from the school classroom.

Yes, I’ve written before about school’s banning the practice of sharing birthdays at school due to concerns about time taken from classwork or worries about creating an expectation of providing snacks for the entire class. But today’s blog is inspired by a Daily Mail story about a Mom’s complaint that 85% of the families in her child’s kindergarten class voted against bringing cake to school on the special day.

The mother didn’t want her child having sugar overload either. Yet, doing the math, she noted that with 20 kids in the class it would work out to a cupcake every two weeks — at most.

“Why can’t we just let kids live?” the mother wrote.

Another parent commenting on the post added: “The world has officially gone nuts.”
So long as those nuts aren’t in a cake being handed out to a small child in school!
The kindergarten in question wasn’t going to stop celebrating student birthdays — thank goodness — but planned to do so with sugar-free snacks.
Yes, there are plenty of fun, healthy alternatives to make a child feel special on their big day. I’m not opposed to a school taking a vote and ridding a classroom of sugared sweets, as long as they don’t do away with the celebrating all together.
Yet, the Mom’s words “can’t we just let kids live” resonate with me. Are we parents or police? I worry sometimes that the advice we get about how to insure our kids will be healthy and successful is taking the parenting thing too far. I am trying to go with moderation as my mantra (although anyone who saw me actually slicing my own piece of a birthday cake would be welcome to remind me of those words before I dig in!).

Don’t Blame the Birthday! Just Don’t Binge.

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Cake at work gluttony.

The Telegraph started the new year with the article: “Office ‘cake culture’ is fueling obesity crisis and treats should be swapped for hugs.” The article surveys expert opinions on the trend of bringing cakes in for birthdays and sharing sweet treats for other special events:

  • The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) warns the growing trend is contributing to poor oral health and the obesity epidemic.
  • The National Obesity Forum’s Tam Fry told the paper, “You may not know who in the office is secretly dieting in which case they won’t appreciate your gesture…If you want to give them anything, give them a smile, a hug or both!”

But let’s heed these warnings with restraint, right? Yes, it makes sense to avoid cakes becoming a daily occurrence at work. Plus, it’s a good idea to make healthier choices to substitute for sugary sweet consumption. Finally, moderation is the key to all dieting and weight management success.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t need to mean banning birthday celebrations. I’ve written in the past about organizations that shy away from feting employees in the office, and offered suggestions of good ways to recognize employees turning another year older. Still, I’m not going to get behind a cake ban. I just can’t do it. Heck, we even used to give our dog a ground beef cake decorated with dog bone candles. To me, birthdays demand cake recognition.

Plus, this science article didn’t even consider the fact that some people don’t want a hug. There are many of us in the world who are uncomfortable with physical affection from people we don’t know well. Consider also the fact that there are probably some faiths (thanks HR awareness raising of past posts) where it would be insulting for a coworker to hug a fellow coworker of the opposite sex.

So, clearly, cakes or their alternatives are the best answer.

Related reading:

Hug me. It’s My Birthday

Birthday Baking or “No Bake” Goodness

10 Reasons not to work on a birthday