You're never too young to cultivate healthy habits, and that goes for birthdays, too. If the idea of a pack of rowdy kids working through a sugar high makes you want to cringe, there's another approach you should consider. Why not throw a birthday party with healthy fare instead? Keep this on the down low, though. That way parents everywhere can entertain their kids while inspiring them to lead healthier, more active lives.
Keep It Moving
In the olden days, children used their energy and lots of imagination to entertain themselves and one another. Encourage kids to develop outdoor pastimes that will help burn calories and get them into shape for a lifetime.
Swimming, baseball and other sports can get the ball rolling on your child's birthday and during other times of the year, too. Bowling, miniature golf and even planting a vegetable garden can get children up, active and inspired. Make arrangements with a local farm to give the kids a birthday tour. Once they understand where their food comes from, they'll have a better appreciation for those greens they're always complaining about.
Through craft activities, like modeling with clay, painting or even baking, kids can learn that there's something really satisfying about making and doing things instead of just watching someone else have all the fun. Hiring talent is good, but inspiring a child's natural talent or interest is even better.
One great birthday activity that can get kids motivated to stay fit, alert and interested is to introduce them to the great outdoors. Host a nature walk to teach kids about local plant and wildlife, or sign them up for a tour of a local wildlife sanctuary, state park or wetlands. These low-impact activities are safe, interesting and often free.
Feed 'Em Right
Instead of a high-calorie cake, make a low-fat carrot cake by substituting apple sauce for part of the oil requirement in your favorite recipe, or follow the low-fat instructions on a packaged cake mix. Yes, if you make the cake yourself you can control the ingredients better, so grab a bowl and some measuring spoons.
Better yet, make low-fat cupcakes and serve them with a scoop of fat-free ice cream. You'll have baked-in portion control and may even be able to avoid most of the frosting altogether. Try decorating with one frosted letter of your child's name per cupcake, and be sure to keep them in order.
For munchies, serve fresh veggies, but be sure to offer lots of low-fat dressings to keep it interesting. Include some fun fruit or traditional kid's fare like pizza or hot dogs, but use lower fat cheese and meat options. Offering turkey franks or mini turkey burgers is a winning strategy, too.
Serve fruit juices instead of soda. Juices contain sugar, but they also have vitamins and minerals that sugary carbonated beverages lack. Fat, sugar and empty carbs don't have to be the order of the birthday. As a matter of fact, birthday parties are so exciting that kids often eat less, not more.
For goody bag gifts, offer healthier solutions, like low-fat homemade cookies, vegetable seeds for a starter garden and fresh fruit. Offer up this bounty in recycled bags as a gentle reminder that conspicuous consumption is out.
After some physical activity and a few healthy snacks, your guests will leave with a better appreciation for healthy food and good old fashioned fun. That's a cause for celebration any day.
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