A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Pizza for Dinner

Pizza for Dinner? 8 Tips to Making It Healthier

In my post on eating dinner together as a family, I admit that sometimes I cut corners by ordering pizza for dinner. During an interview with the group Thriving Schools, I also mentioned surviving the work-kid juggle by ordering pizza at times. I was asked about the wisdom of these admissions. Perhaps @KPKiddoc should be putting a healthier face on her slice of life?

Let’s face it, pizza is everywhere. It’s hard to raise kids without it. Schools serve it often. Every soccer team party features pizza. And yes, tired moms depend on it. However, since it can be high in saturated fat and salt, pizza can be a nutritional nightmare. Given this, it’s not surprising that I might be warned to be more health conscious.

We want to feed our kids well, and we’re looking for tips on how to do so. A google search of “is pizza healthy?” generates 9,640,000 responses. My answer is, “Yes. It can be.” Here’s how:

  1. Have just 1 or 2 slices. Since 1 slice is more than enough for a small child, consider cutting it in half. Two slices are sufficient, even for my athletic teens. At the dinner table, discuss the concept of moderation and portion size with your kids.
  2. Fill the rest of their plate with salad. 
  3. Have a whole-wheat or vegetable crust. And definitely don’t get it “stuffed” with cheese.
  4. Order or use less cheese. You can order extra cheese, right? (I suggest you don’t do it!) Turns out you can also order less cheese which will cut down on the fat. Most kids won’t notice the difference.
  5. Skip the meat. Your kids will be happy without it. They don’t need pepperoni to bribe them into eating it … just say no.
  6. Add veggies. Same concept: kids like pizza enough that they usually will eat some veggies with it. If not, that’s what salad is for.
  7. Skip the fast food restaurant version.
  8. Make your own. Ok, not for a night when you’re tired – but a fun family project.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, a quarter of all children ages 6 to 19 eat pizza on any given day – so it seems that our love affair with this meal is here to stay. Let’s just work to make it a healthier choice for our kids.

“(In Napoli where love is king
When a boy meets a girl
Here’s what they sing)

When the moon hits your eye
Like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!”

Harry Warren and Jack Brooks

This article first appeared in the blog KP Thriving Schools.

Enjoy our resources on My Doctor Online to help your family eat well:
How To Create a Healthy Plate
Eat Well, Be Active, Live Better