Dining out with kids is not always easy. And even if it is, you are often left feeling guilty that your child just ate a plate consisting completely of fried, tan foods. (Exhibit A – second image in previous blog.) (Seriously, is it so hard for a restaurant to at least serve some carrot sticks with those chicken fingers?)
Going out to eat should be a treat—for you and the kids. So my primary strategy is to try and keep it that way. If your kids are eating out just once per week, let them order what they want, and just sit back and enjoy. It’s not worth stressing about 1 out of their 20 + meals of the week.
But whether it’s because of summer vacation, traveling, a kitchen renovation, or a busy sports schedule—there are times when we find ourselves eating out a lot more often. And that’s ok. But there are some strategies you can take to make most of those restaurant meals a little healthier.Eating out with kids? Follow these 6 strategies to help your kids eat healthier... Click To Tweet
1 – Try to choose a restaurant with healthy options.
If you take your kids to a place that serves only fried food, well chances are it’s going to be hard for them to make a healthy choice! Seek out restaurants that offer a variety of healthy, fresh foods—fortunately, but take care to make sure you don’t fall for healthy-sounding foods such as organic soda or all-natural french fries.
2 – Order off the grown-up menu.
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that the kid’s menu often consists of fried and cheesy options. My kids get excited about these foods since we rarely have them at home, so I usually let them order what they want. But I know families with young kids who order off the grown-up menu and then share these meals with their kids—family style. This is terrific since you can often get so many healthier choices this way.
3 – Order some color for your kids.
If your kids go for the starchy, cheesy meal, you can still get some color on their plate by ordering a side salad or a bowl of steamed broccoli for them to share as well. Explain to them the importance of a colorful plate, and then give them 2 or 3 side options to choose from.
4 – Follow the one fried food per plate rule.
This strategy is good for young and old alike to help keep their health in check. Stick to one fried food per plate. So if you go for the chicken fingers, have pasta and a salad on the side. If your child adores fries, pair it with a small burger or grilled fish…and, ideally, some colorful veggies.
5 – Do you want lemonade or dessert?
My kids love lemonade. They also love dessert. When we go out to eat I usually have them pick one. Do they want their extra sugar with their drink or their dessert? Usually, they opt for water, which is great and brings me to my next point…
6 – Drink water.
If we are going out to eat more than once a week, I try hard to make sure we all get water to drink most of these times. I lead by example and explain to my kids that water is also better for the budget. This way when they do get lemonade or I get a glass of wine, it’s a real treat, the way it should be.
I realize that once kids get to a certain age they are meeting up at the local pizza joint on almost a daily basis…and then before you know it they are in college, and also probably eating pizza on almost a daily basis. But while they are young and at home, you can hopefully establish some healthy eating habits that stick with them.
What are your strategies for healthier eating with kids? Do you even feel like you have any say in what they order? Let me know, I love to hear from you!
On the next blog…simple, healthy back to school lunch ideas for kids of different ages.