While I don't have kids of my own, I have plenty of friends and family that do. And when I'm out for lunches and dinners with them, I can't help but be a teensy bit judge-y about the kids' meal options at many restaurants. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I would love for these restaurants to take the jump and offer more un-fried main options and more non-French-fry veggies, along with less-sugary dessert options. Why does the go-to kids' meal at many restaurants have to be a grilled cheese sandwich with French fries? Well, it doesn't.
We are making slow but sure progress in this area—for instance, the National Restaurant Association and Healthy Dining Finder are in their fifth year of partnering up on the Kids LiveWell program, which works with dozens of chain restaurants to offer healthier options for children. You can, for instance, order your child grilled chicken with steamed spinach at Carrabba's Italian Grill or turkey with garlic dill new potatoes at Boston Market.
But there are plenty of chains that don't offer healthy options, as well as many smaller restaurants that could use kids' menu makeovers. Need some inspiration to healthy up your kids' plates? Try these strategies for your next meal out:
Do you have rules for what your kids can order at a restaurant? What are your go-to kids' meals, and what healthier options would you like to see on kids' menus?
Amy Gorin is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition. Frequently interviewed by the media, she privately counsels clients in Jersey City, NJ, New York City, and long distance—and works as a nutrition consultant and motivational speaker. Amy pens "The Eat List" blog for WeightWatchers.com and has written hundreds of articles on nutrition and health. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.