Everyone is busy these days. In the hustle and bustle of daily activity, it is often hard to slow down for a healthy sit-down meal. Many people make a habit of driving through fast food places or eating out. Eating out is no longer saved for a special occasion. If you have children, you can encourage them to eat healthier for those days when the drive through is the only option.
Restaurant food, whether it is fast food or not is traditionally high in fat and calories-and what type of foods do most kids order at these places? Fried foods and those low in nutritional content such as chicken nuggets, French fries and burgers. Here are some tips for helping your child choose foods more carefully when eating out.
Don’t be a member of the “clean your plate” club: Most kids know when they are full. You should not force your kids to clean their plate, no matter what is on it. Instead, encourage your child to eat only until they are comfortably full.
Encourage healthy fast food options: So many restaurants now see that more parents want their children to have healthier menu options when eating out. McDonald’s now offers milk and apples instead of soda and fries. Wendy’s offers baked potatoes, oranges, yogurt and milk instead of the traditional sides. Encourage your child to choose these healthy options. You can also start them off young by introducing these foods to younger children early on.
Set a good example: If you order a plate full of high fat foods, what kind of message are you sending your child? That doesn’t mean you can never have fries again, but balance your meals with side salads and water or other healthy options. When your child sees you doing this, he or she is more likely to follow suit.
Share: Teaching your child to share is nice and healthy too when it comes to eating out. Order French Fries and share or even consider ordering healthier options off of the adult menu and splitting them with your child. Not only is it important to teach what to eat, but portion control is also important.
Teach your child to slow down: When you teach your child to eat slowly, he or she will feel full faster and learn to enjoy the meal. Slowing down means cutting the calorie intake and it’s better for your digestive system, too.
Say no to appetizers: Appetizers are meant to kill your appetite. When you order high fat foods such as fried cheese sticks or butter bread, your child will not want to healthier stuff that comes later. Skip the empty calories.
Say no to soda: Many parents get in the habit of allowing their child to order soda when they go out to eat. Water is the best choice and milk (two percent) is a good option, too. If you child does not like water, try taking along one of those sugar free flavor pouches to add to the water, or letting them add fresh lemon to the water.
Get it to go: If you can, go through the drive through and order only the main entrée such as the burgers. Then take it home and enjoy it with fresh fruit and milk that you already have at home. It saves you money and a few extra calories.