By: Jodie Shield, RD
All foods, even cake, ice cream, and candy, have their place in a healthy diet. That’s the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (www.eatright.org). Kids can eat anything they want in moderation, but they need to compensate for the extra calories elsewhere in there day. One way you can help your child – and his or her friends – is to host a birthday party that focuses on the fun, rather than on the food. So if you’re in birthday party planning mode, here are a few tips to help you get a healthy party started.
Pick an action-packed party theme. Have a pool party, take kids roller-skating, or host a mini-Olympics in your backyard or at a park.
Play games that keep your guests moving. Some all-time favorites include: Duck, Duck Goose, musical chairs, and scavenger or treasure hunts.
Provide less-sweet and lower-fat munchies. Most kids love treats like popcorn, pretzels, apple slices with low-fat yogurt dip, baked taco chips and salsa, a 100% fruit juice. Set the treats out in bowls or on trays for guests to nibble on (or sip) during the party.
Prepare quick and easy kid-favorite meals in more healthful ways. When making hamburgers or sloppy joes, use extra-lean ground beef, and drain any excess fat. Or have kids make their own pizzas using whole wheat English muffins, shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, and a dab of pizza sauce. Bake the pizzas for ten minutes or until the cheese melts.
On the day of the party, you’ll want to strike a balance between what (and how much) your child eats and the amount of physical activity he gets. Since you know your child will be eating pizza and cake at the party, plan to serve a light dinner afterward, hold off on dessert, and go for a family walk.
It’s your child’s birthday so let them eat cake – and enjoy eating it too! How have you been able to lighten up your child’s party without spoiling the fun?