5 easy tips for a healthy birthday party for your kids

My children and yours I’m sure, have gone to and will continue to go to, countless birthday parties over the years. They come home all sugared up with a week’s supply of goodies in their party bags.

Kids birthday parties are synonymous with cake and sweets and chocolate and fizzy drinks and jellies and … you get the point. But does it have to be this way? I am not expecting it to be entirely sugar-free but can we make parties a tad more healthy?

In my ever so humble opinion, there are a few factors at work here :

  • Kids go to more parties these days as often the whole class gets an invite. It wasn’t like that in the olden days when I was a child!
  • Most 'treats’ in the good old days were home baked and from my memory, there were usually some type of fairy buns, rice krispie buns and a cake. And that was it. 
  • In these modern times (I am feeling really old writing this!), it appears that not only is there cake and buns but also sweets and jellies and chocolate and biscuits and crisps and so on and so on
  • Party bags - don’t get me started! Another unnecessary American tradition (Halloween sugarfest anyone?) that sees kids being sent home from parties with a bag of either more sugar or plastic toys or a combination of both. When did this become a thing? What happened to getting a slice of cake in a napkin?

It doesn’t have to be like this, people. We are adults and we are in charge of the food we offer our children. We can make changes for the health of our children by making some simple food swaps or changes. 

Here’s 5 tips on how to make your child’s birthday party healthier:

  • Offer (healthy) savoury food first and let them eat their fill of that before the buns come out e.g.. raw veg and dips, hummus and breadsticks, sandwiches
  • Reduce the quantity and increase the quality of the treat food you offer eg. spend a bit more on quality chocolate and skip the jellies
  • Ditch the party bags completely and instead offer one cute pencil or notebook or a slice of cake to take home.
  • Pop your own popcorn (a very affordable option) and use that instead of crisps
  • Instead of fizzy drinks, give them water flavoured with fresh orange or a dash of cordial 

I’m not saying have an entirely sugar-free birthday party, although that is possible. I’m just asking that we all be more mindful of what we serve at kids parties for their future health. And yes, I really am that old.

As a mum of 3, I know how difficult, challenging and difficult (worth saying twice!) it can be, feeding them a healthy, balanced diet. A couple of years ago, I left my full-time job and retrained as a Health and Nutrition Coach - much to the disgust of my children. My goal is to teach children about the joys of healthy eating (so yes, I know how difficult it is!) through my business, The Cool Food School (www.thecoolfoodschool.ie). I also like to run, drink coffee and ignore the housework.

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