Eating Out with Kids

October 22, 2009 at 7:42 am Leave a comment

One of the toughest things for parents can sometimes be eating out with their kids.  I am not talking behaviour here.  Although the wiggly, let me down so I can run amok toddler is difficult to handle in a restaurant; choosing food that is not going to add to that behaviour is often toughest.

With a baby it is fairly simple.  Bring your own food.  Whenever you go out with your little one have some good food in the diaper bag.  But what about when they are older?  Once your child is over one-year it becomes more difficult to carry everything you need and sometimes you just might find yourself in a restaurant because it is late, you are all hungry and its a lot easier than going home and cooking.

I am going to be hard-core here.  I know what you give your child in a restaurant, I know what is on the menu, I know what you say to justify your choices.  I also know that it isn’t impossible to make good choices.  With the illnesses that children are being diagnosed with (heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity) I really believe that we need to set the bar high for our children.  And ourselves.  There is nothing wrong with a treat once in a while, but remember that when it is a treat everyday or even weekly, it is actually a habit. Make the right choices for your child.

Here are my Top 5 things to remember in a restaurant

#1 – Sweet Potato Fries are not healthier. They are fried.  They are fries.  They are not an appropriate choice for a child.  Neither are French Fries.

#2 – Milk or water are the only beverages you should choose. Never soft drinks.  Never juice.  And never chocolate milk!  I don’t think I need to go into why soft drinks (including Diet) are terrible, and I don’t think it is news that I don’t like juice, but in a restaurant you really don’t know what kind of juice you are giving your child.  As for chocolate milk, no matter what you may read or hear about how it is a good source of calcium, unsweetened white milk is a good source of calcium, without all the sugar.  If your child is not happy with boring white milk or water, let them use a straw & blow a few bubbles.

#3 – Pick the ‘freshest’ food on the menu. This means something that did not come out of a box and go into the fryer.  A pasta dish or sandwich would be better.  You can always ask for a kid’s version of an adult menu item.  You can also consider sharing your meal with your child.

#4 – Order all bread products on whole wheat. The grilled cheese, the french toast, the tuna salad sandwich.  Your child should not know that white bread exists.

#5 – Have dessert at home. Not only is this cheaper, but you can control the portion size and maybe by the time you get home the interest in dessert will be gone?!?!   You can also control what dessert is offered by providing a snack or treat that has your ‘seal of approval’.

#6 – Don’t go to fast food restaurants. Ever.

Eat out! It is important for kids to learn how to behave in new environments and try different food, just make sure you give them healthy choices along the way.


Entry filed under: Drinks, Good Grains, Tips for Picky Eaters. Tags: , , , .

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