Discovery Vitality dietitians share expert tips on how to reduce your child’s sugar intake without ruining all the fun at children’s parties.
While you may be in control of what your baby consumes, there comes a time in every parenting journey when you realise that, no matter how vigilant you are, you can no longer monitor everything your growing child eats — particularly when it comes to the sweets, cake and sugary drinks on offer at birthday parties.
Why serve healthy kid’s party food
Head of Vitality’s nutrition strategy, Candice Smith, says: “Reducing sugar at your child’s party might be more time-consuming than opening a few packets and cracking a few cans. But this small effort now can help save you many years of heartache with a teenager struggling with their weight.” Research shows, for example, that drinking too many sugary beverages leads to an increased risk for obesity in children and adolescents.
Thankfully, more and more parents are becoming increasingly aware of the need to provide healthy alternatives for children celebrating birthdays. And while it does require some planning, it doesn’t have to be expensive or boring.
“Some might say healthy food is the furthest thing from your mind when planning a party or another event, and you may have no desire to change that, but I would urge you to reconsider,” says Candice. “This is the perfect time to position wholesome food as fun in the malleable minds of your kids.”
The intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugar and salty snacks by SA kids scored an ‘F’ in the latest Healthy Active Kids South Africa Report Card. The Report Card reflects the best available scientific evidence from the last 5 years concerning physical activity and healthy eating in South African children and youth. Read the full report.
8 deliciously healthy kid’s party food ideas
- Serve a selection of fresh fruit such as strawberries, melon slices, segmented naartjies or fruit kebabs.
- Swap sweet-filled party packs with small toys or get the kids to plant a seedling or small flower to take home.
- Serve home-popped popcorn instead of crisps.
- Make a selection of sandwiches using brown or wholewheat bread, then cut them into fun shapes with a cookie cutter.
- Instead of sweets as prizes for games, offer small toys such as crayons, stickers and balloons.
- Set out water jugs infused with fresh fruit or strips of cucumber so that guests can help themselves.
- For a morning party, prepare small muesli-and-yoghurt pots with a raspberry on top of each.
- Kids LOVE ice-lollies and it’s so easy to make your own. Click here to get the recipe for these fruity added sugar-free lollies.
How to encourage kids to love healthy food
Kids from the ages of 8 to 12 can learn to make delicious meals at the Vitality HealthyFood Studio. Their fun, interactive cooking and dining kitchen teaches kids to prepare nutritious, appetising meals by themselves, thanks to their partnership with Woolworths and the Prue Leith Chefs Academy. Use the promocode HFSKids and receive a 25% discount when you book a kid’s class during June.