My daughter, Ever Love, and I (who both eat a plant-based diet) recently went to a non-vegan children’s party.
What does a plant-based mama (with healthy children, who she wants to keep healthy) do on these occasions? How do we get through a situation like this?
If I were to show you videos and pictures from the day, you would see Ever at the kids’ table during cake time, enjoying eating with the others.
Ever has now been going to parties for over two years now; she turned two herself on May 18. Parties are always fun for her. She always participates in activities and socializing, and she always enjoys herself when it’s time to eat. After parties, she’s a dream to put to bed.
That day, I had forgotten we were supposed to be attending this party—completely forgotten—until we were in the car on our way somewhere else and I looked at my calendar..Eek! So we arrived a fashionable one hour late.
I always have some food on hand that Ever loves; that morning it was ripe avocados. Before getting out of the car, she ate one whole avocado—until she was satisfied—and drank some fresh coconut water. We then went into the party with her belly 100 percent satisfied and 100 percent nourished (that’s key).
When they announced that cake would be served, I explained to Ever simply, “Darling, they have cake, but it’s not vegan. I’ll find something else yummy for you to have.” That was all.
She knows exactly what that means, as I’ve said it on multiple occasions at parties and celebrations before—and I always come through with my promise to find her something she loves. She has never once felt as though she was missing out, because she never was.
We went to the table and sat in front of the fruit platter. Ever’s eyes nearly popped out of her head with excitement. She ate the equivalent of two beautifully ripe kiwi fruits, five strawberries and three slices of melon while others ate cake. She loved it.
No one else had offered their children fruit instead of cake, so I also made a point of passing around a fruit platter that was already there. I think only one out of about 10 kids didn’t take any; the rest were thrilled. On the table were meat pies, fairy bread, cake and a fruit platter. Oh how we underestimate our children!
Many of the mums were anxious—“She’s not going to sleep tonight.” “The sugar high has started.” “This is going to be a challenging afternoon.”—and rightfully so. As the emotions and craziness kicked in, mums started getting grumpy, and kids unresponsive and impulsive. One mum was chasing her now nude child (no judgement, I’m all for nudity) through the building trying to take her home.
Heading to a celebration soon? Maybe my experience raising my daughter on a wholesome, plant-based diet can help.
Here are my top three tips for handling parties with healthy kids:
1. Communicate before the party that there will be food there that they won’t be able to eat. I and my vegan friends talk to our children all the time, letting them know why we don’t buy certain foods that other people have—and why we don’t eat them when other people offer them.
We can explain to our children why we don’t eat—and why we don’t want to feed them—processed, sugar-filled, factory farmed or other unhealthy foods. They’ll listen.
2. Fill them up with food they love before they walk in. Do this at home, or in the car like I did, but be sure to do it. A satisfied child is a content child, not low on blood sugar and seeking “survival foods” or running on excitement alone. If we feed them what they love, they can make more rational choices when the “non-foods” (food that is totally void of real nutritional value) come out.
3. Follow through on promises like, “When they have cake, I will have something really yummy for you to have instead,” If we’re not organized ahead of time, we can duck out to buy something, or promise that when we leave we’ll go get something they love (e.g. a fresh coconut, a raw vegan cake, a mango, a punnet of strawberries, a smoothie)—and follow through with it. Our word is everything. If our children see us keep our word, they’ll trust us,
I believe parties have become even more enjoyable for Ever and me thanks to these healthy habits.
We have a blast! We enjoy every minute of play, every bite of food and every after-party nap together.
We wish you the healthiest, funnest parties of your lives, starting now.
Author: Donna Wild
Image: @wilddonnawild on Instagram
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren