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We all know our children love to eat pizza, French fries, mac and cheese (and for my kids – mozzarella sticks) when they go out to a restaurant. In fact, children’s menus tend to be the most fatty, salty, sugary and calorific of all. My husband and I generally allow our kids to choose what they like because they eat so healthily in general and are only taken out to eat about every other month or so. A few mozzarella sticks several times a year won’t hurt and allows children to make good choices every day, with “treatier” options on occasion.
But many children eat out a lot – some a few times a week or more. This is where menus become incentives to overeat and where parents allow their children to make poor choices all too often. A side of fries is more popular than a side of carrots and we parents are solely to blame for being far too permissive with our children. But recently, many large restaurant chains (19 in all, including Burger King, IHOP, Carrabba's and Denny's) have implemented much healthier options including whole wheat breads, pasta and rice, vegetarian options and vegetables and fruit on menus for kids.
This program is known as Kids Live Well, with the ultimate goal of having healthy options on all children’s menus. This isn’t to say that any kind of food police will put a ban on burgers and fries – but it does mean that they will no longer be the only options for children. If adult menus have many healthy options, then surely growing and developing kids should have them too.
If you’re looking for places to go with your children, there are over 150,000 restaurants participating so far. You can find them (and other restaurants with healthy choices) here: www.healthydiningfinder.com
What do your kids eat when out in restaurants? Do you welcome these new choices and commitments from these major chains (as well as many other smaller operations)?