My pediatric clients know how difficult it is to go to parties, celebrations, or gatherings that have party snacks as the central focus. The truth is, some adults are challenged with the dilemma of eating party snacks, but for kids, the scene of party food aplenty is a growing reality.
As a result, parents, and their kids, often need some help navigating kids’ party snacks.
Party Snacks are Everywhere!
School parties, birthday parties, end-of year celebrations, holiday festivities and sporting event gatherings are just a few examples of events where party snacks live. For some families, unhealthy snacks are a daily obstacle. And, many parents are frustrated with this situation.
The sheer number of food-focused parties and events their children have to circumvent or make decisions about can be overwhelming. Especially if a family is trying to balance healthy eating as a priority.
“I can’t decide what to eat…I want it all!”.
“There are so many desserts and they all look good…”.
“All my favorite foods seem to be at parties.”
These are real sentiments from real children.
True, parties and celebrations may be loaded with temptations and oftentimes offer all the “fun” foods that you may be regulating or serving with a strategy at home.
While you or your child may feel that attending a party is a lost cause when managing the balance of healthy eating during festive events, there are some strategies that can be useful in approaching the party scene.
Strategies for Eating at a Party
Here are some approaches to think about before you get on the party eating circuit:
Survey the Food-Scape
Encourage your child to check out all the food that is available without eating anything. Have him look at all the offerings, take mental notes of what he’d like to eat, what looks interesting, and what is an absolute no-go.
Select the Most Important and Special Dessert (or Treat)
Have your child choose the item he cannot leave without eating! Being “good” or selecting the “healthier option” may leave him feeling deprived and unsatisfied.
Select Your First Course
Encourage your child to fill her plate with fruits and veggies first (and eat them). She will easily start to quell the hunger pains, and contributed to the overall health of her day.
Don’t Graze on Party Snacks
Cow’s are notorious for grazing, or eating all day long. People tend to lose track of how much they have eaten when they graze. The same goes for drinking calorie-rich beverages. Instead of grazing, select your food items, make your plate (or bowl!), eat it, and move on!
Limit your Sodas
The calorie and sugar content of sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages are significant and can add up, especially when children are having a good time (and not paying attention to how much they are drinking). Remember, all sweets and treats count as “fun foods”, even the ones you drink.
Eat like a Spaniard
Spaniards eat on a little plate, and with a little portion. Savor the flavor of little bites of different foods, rather than a large portion of one food.
These strategies may help your child be more thoughtful in their food choices, and make good decisions at parties. It also gives them strategies to use when faced with tough decisions: which “fun foods” and how much?
You wouldn’t give your child an unlimited budget for a shopping spree!
Take the same approach with smorgasbords and party snacks. Teach your child how to manage “fun foods,” especially at parties, so they don’t take over and derail your child’s health.
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: May 23, 2018
Updated on: October 13, 2019