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Strategies for Taming the Party Animal

For all you parents out there who have one too many parties to bring your children to throughout the year, here are tips to help you and your kids survive the never ending food-filled party circuit. This post is from guest blogger Jill Castle, a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Pediatric Nutrition of Green Hills LLC, a private practice dedicated to the specialized nutritional needs of infants, children, and teens.

Whether they’re headed to a birthday party, school event, or any other celebration, children and parents alike may feel they’re entering a minefield that can lead to poor choices, out of control eating, and regret. We all know that most festive gatherings feature “fun foods” such as chips, cakes, cookies, soda, and candy, often in unlimited quantities. The sense of freedom and type of foods offered at such events can certainly make it difficult for children to make healthful choices and eat reasonable amounts. Many parents are frustrated with the number of food-focused events their children have to tackle, especially if healthy eating is a priority, or weight is an issue.

While you or your children may feel that attending all these parties will sabotage healthy eating, don’t despair…here are 6 strategies that can be useful to tame the party beast in all of us:

  • Survey the food-scape.  Check it all out (the food that is) without eating anything.  Look at all that’s offered, make mental notes of what you’d like to eat, what looks interesting, and what is an absolute no-go.
  • First Course:  Fruits and Veggies.  Fill your plate with fruits and veggies first (and eat them).  They fill you up, quiet the hunger pangs, and help you get closer to your daily fruit and veggie requirement.
  • 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’re drinking).  Remember, all sweets are treats and count as “fun foods,” even the ones you drink.
  • Don’t be a cow! Cow’s are notorious for grazing…eating all day long.  Children tend to lose track of how much they’ve eaten when they graze; the same goes for drinking calorie-rich beverages. Rather, be a dog–make your plate (or bowl!), eat it, and move on.
  • Select the most important and special dessert (or junk food item) –the one you cannot leave without eating!  Being “good” or selecting the “healthier option” may leave you feeling deprived and unsatisfied, and at risk for grabbing that yummy item later.
  • Eat like a Spaniard…on a little plate, 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 make more thoughtful food and beverage choices when they’re at parties and empower them when it comes to decision making when they eat in any setting: “Which “fun foods” do I choose, and how much will I have?”

You wouldn’t give your child an unlimited budget for a shopping spree!  Take the same approach with the smorgasbord of temptations they’re confronted with at parties and the like. If you teach your children how to manage “fun foods” wherever they are, you’ll help set them up for a lifetime of smart spending.

About the author:

Jill Castle is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Pediatric Nutrition of Green Hills LLC, a private practice dedicated to the specialized nutritional needs of infants, children, and teens. A specialist in pediatric nutrition for over 20 years, Jill also works as a nutrition consultant for a variety of industries including school systems, marketing, and legal corporations.  She writes a weekly blog, Just the Right Byte (, and provides pediatric nutrition content for other websites, blogs, books, journals, and magazines.  You can find out more about Jill at

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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized and award-winning health and nutrition expert, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books. An avid walker, she loves motivating others to #moveitorloseit. A book lover, she recently earned a certificate in children’s literature from Stony Brook Southampton and is currently working on several young adult novels. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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