Many of you know that I have four kids. What you may not know is that I LOVE to plan birthday parties. We have had lots of themes over the years……..Barney Luau, Elmo, Pokemon, Scooby Doo, Water fun, Sports themes, Sleepovers and Craft parties to name a few. I even remember when my little guy (who is now 20) wanted a 101 Dalmatians birthday party. Unfortunately, they were not popular at the time. There was nothing available at the stores. I had to be very creative. I spent night after night coloring big spots onto plastic tablecloths with my Sharpie just to see him smile. It worked.
These parties were filled with lots of junk food. Everything was brightly colored and much of it came from boxes and bags. I had a blast being creative and overindulgent with sugar. After all, it was a party. That’s what they are for………. right?
Fast forward to now. My views on food sure have changed. I now try to avoid artificial
colors as much as I can. If you don’t know why, you can read my earlier post about artificial colors. I also prepare the bulk of my family’s meals using mostly organic ingredients. I don’t do this to be a snob about food or because I think that I am somehow better than other people. I do this because I have finally had my eyes opened to the fact that good food can provide my family with the best chance of living a long healthy life. This is extremely important to me.
My younger two children have back to back birthdays in April and May. This is both a party planners dream and nightmare come true. I love planning parties, but with working full-time and running the kids to all of their activities, things get a little crazy. This year, I had the added turmoil of what to do about the food? I still wanted the kind of party that would make my kids smile from ear to ear on their special day. As my daughter informed me, “Healthy is fun……most of the time.” This was her gentle reminder that she didn’t want me to go crazy with the healthy food at her party.
Her comment really got me thinking. I’ve given up a lot of treats (junk) that I used to eat. Little Debbie Snacks are long gone. I really don’t miss them. However, it was my choice to give them up and I already had the chance to experience them as a child. Lisa Leake at 100 Days of Real Food has a great post about this. I certainly don’t want to lay this wonderful groundwork of eating a Real Food diet for my children, only to have them rebel against me when they get older and start eating junk. I want them to have information so that they can make informed food decisions for themselves when they get older. I really don’t think this will happen if I force them to only eat what I want them to eat.
After thinking long and hard about my daughter’s birthday party, I decided to make some Real Food compromises. I figured she eats very nutritious food on a regular basis and that is more important than what she eats once in a while. I decided to go with a combination of good nutrient rich foods and typical party foods.
Pizza – We went with pizzeria pizza. Most of the kids we know like cheese pizza so we went with that. This eliminated the concern of nitrates/nitrites in pepperoni. Another option could be to make your own pizzas using homemade pizza dough, whole-wheat bagels, or tortillas.
Cupcakes – What is a birthday without a birthday cake? I liked the ideas of having cupcakes because it limits the serving size and we wouldn’t be left with a lot of leftover cake. This is a nice way to truly make the treat for that day only. I have a friend who makes cakes and cupcakes from scratch. They are still very much treats, but they are at least made with lots of old-fashioned ingredients.
Now for my healthy add-ons…………………..
I made a giant fruit salad full of lots of different fruits. I was hoping there would be something for everyone in this fruit salad. I was a little surprised that not all of the girls were willing to eat it. Most of them did eat it though so I felt good about this choice.
Monkey Bites – My kids would eat these everyday if I let her. It shouldn’t have been a surprise when my daughter asked if I would make them for her party. I often include Monkey Bites in the kids’ lunches and I later found out that they were really a request from some of the party guests who eat lunch with my daughter. They were wanting to try them since they see them so often in my daughter’s lunch box.
Bottled water to drink. Instead of serving pop, punch or those famous pouches, I decided to purchase small sized bottled waters. I was thrilled that they were a hit. I didn’t have one complaint.
Throughout the party, I saw nothing but smiles from ear to ear. That made me happy. Years from now, I hope my children will know that food is important, but it doesn’t have to rule over you. It is far more important to enjoy time spent with good friends and family than to worry about eating a few treats here or there……………as long as they remain only occasional treats.
Now it’s your turn. How do you feel about food at parties? Should we go for it, compromise, or not bend at all? What do you do? How are you teaching your kids about food and nutrition? I would love to hear from you. Your comments mean the world to me and really are a help to all of our readers. We are all on this Real Food Journey together.
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