How to Take Control of the Kids’ Meal Problem
As you read in yesterday’s discussion of the new fast food nutritional study (or shall we call it, lack of nutrition study?), many fast food restaurant chains have crammed the kiddie meal full of too many calories. It’ s frustrating for parents and others who are taking care of children because they figure if it says “kids’ meal” it should, in fact, be constructed with kids’ best interests and health in mind. Alas, it’s not.
Since many of these restaurants are in no rush to reorganize their menu’s for children what should we do?
(1) Take initiative and use discretion when you enter these establishments in order to choose the best lunch or dinner options . You can buy ala carte, give your children choices between the best 2-3 options, go to a place that offers healthier options, or brown bag at least a portion of the meal.
(2) Drop the soda and highly sweetened juice and opt for water, low fat milk, or bring along something you trust and know is healthy.
(3) Do a little research: While I agree that it should already be done for us, in many cases, it’s not. Many of these foods might look harmless but are packed with calories, sugar, fat, and sodium.
(4) Ask for details: If they don’t have the nutritional information out, ask for it. You have a right to know what your child is putting in his or her mouth.
(5) Make your wishes known: Let your local restaurants know what you want. With enough people asking, they’ll be more likely to provide it.
(6) Ensure that the rest of your children’s meals are on target: You may not have full control of ingredients when you’re eating out, but you can certainly take control when your children are eating in your home. Pay attention to labels at the store and integrate more whole grains, veggies, and fruits into each meal.
(7) Talk to your children about healthy choices: When children know what foods make them grow strong, healthy and tall and what foods don’t have that same power– they’re much more likely to make healthy choices. Who doesn’t want to grow up strong and healthy?
(8 ) Expose them to healthy foods at home: They’re much more likely to gravitate to healthier options if they’re used to them. Have fun! Nutritious food doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless. You can make yummy, healthier versions of children’s favorites like pizza, tacos, chicken nuggets, and even shakes at home so that you know they’re getting the good stuff and they won’t crave the “bad stuff” nearly as much. (I started making my own dairy-free ice-creams so that I know exactly what’s in them, how much, and what’s going into my family. They’re delicious!)
(9) Ask to substitute: You’re the buyer– don’t like what you see? Ask for something else. For example, if you don’t “want fries with that,” ask for apple slices or veggies, if they have them.
(10) Split it: Just because they give you double the calories, fat, sugar, and sodium in the kids’ meals doesn’t mean that it all needs to be eaten in one sitting. Your children want fries? Split the order in half and share it between the two. You can do the same thing with the chicken, burgers, or pizza. Don’t have more than one child? Either split and give the other half to someone else who is unable to buy it themselves, put it away for later, or get rid of it. We want to teach children that just because it’s in front of them doesn’t mean it’s healthy to eat all at one time.
It’s vital that we don’t allow the restaurant chains to make nutritional decisions for our children. After all, they’re working for us! Get the information you need to make the best and most powerful decision possible for your children and your family. They’re depending on it.
Have a Powerful Day-