Who doesn’t love a great party? Celebrating with family and friends at a festive birthday party is one of the many pleasures of being a kid. Yet, one guest that always seems to be present at parties is junk food — pizza, cake, ice cream, and soda are birthday bash staples. While these types of foods are OK for an occasional treat, they are full of excess calories, fat, sugar, and salt. Because birthday parties have become a regular activity for kids (parents are often toting their children around to one or two of their friends’ parties every weekend) these unhealthy foods are often part of kids’ weekly diets, but eating too much of them can encourage poor eating habits and result in weight gain.
Christine Tseng, a registered dietician in the greater New York area, acknowledges the abundance of unhealthy food options at birthday parties but explains that it is possible to change the habit.
"It is quite a challenge getting your kids to eat healthy at a kiddy party given the availability of cookies, candies, and sweetened beverages. As health-conscious parents, it is easy to make the party fun and healthy — we just need to be creative. Making the party foods visually stimulating and interactive is key."
Try swapping out less healthy foods like potato chips and takeout pizza with healthier options like vegetable chips and homemade pizza — make healthy food fun. Kids love getting their hands dirty, so get them involved by setting up healthy pizza-making stations and making it one of the party activities. Here are 10 typical birthday party foods and suggestions on how to make them a little healthier but no less enjoyable.