“Tips to Eating Out with Children”
Blog Ten: Monday, 3 June 2019
Written by Mandy Sacher, CEO of Wholesome Child
A common question I have from parents wanting to be as healthy as possible is, “how can I take my kids to a restaurant?”
Eating out as a family can often be a scary time as many kids meals are loaded with refined sugars, hydrogenated fats and sodium. But, the answer isn’t to avoid restaurants! Simply make sure when eating out you choose the healthiest options for your family and avoid a nutritional nightmare. Here are my top tips and what to look for on the menu.
Many of us love to take a peek at the menu before we head to a restaurant anyway. This can be a great time to get a sense of whether you can find at least one or two nutritious meal choices. If the menu isn’t ideal, bring a few healthy supplies or for babies and toddlers to eat.
Avoid the kids’ menu
The kids’ menu is most often a junk food trap designed to entice young taste buds with deep-fried fish fingers and chips, chicken nuggets and toasted cheese sandwiches. These meals offer little nutritional value but are often included as eating out staples for growing children. So unless you are eating at a venue with a healthy kid’s selection, it’s best to order off the main menu and share with your child.
Aim for breakfast options that will jumpstart the day for you and your family.
- Free-range eggs with healthy sides, such as salmon, avocado, fresh tomato, buffalo mozzarella and grilled mushrooms. Ask for sourdough, wholegrain or gluten-free bread.
- Superfood smoothies. A winning combination is to include natural yoghurt, coconut water, chia, banana, blueberries and spinach.
- Quinoa or chia porridge is now available in many health conscious places.
- Oatmeal (the old-fashioned kind) topped with plain yoghurt and seasonal fruit.
Encourage your children to fill up on protein-packed lunch options to ensure their energy levels remain high throughout the afternoon.
- Sandwiches on sourdough or wholegrain bread with at least one nutritious protein such as tuna, salmon, egg, cheese or shredded chicken, and additional energy boosting ingredients such as avocado, lettuce, grated carrot or cucumber.
- If your children ask for chips, try to encourage them to have wedges, baked potato or potato mash instead. Some restaurants may offer sweet potato wedges as a healthy alternative.
- Pizzas are a favourite for hungry little tummies but make sure you order a thin crust pizza and ask if gluten-free options are available.
Eating out for dinner can be one of the most challenging nutritional conquests. This is when veggie sticks, dips or other healthy snacks may come in handy to ward off pleas for other snacks whilst they wait for their food to arrive.
- Choose a healthy protein option such as grilled, sautéed or baked meats, poultry and fish. For vegetarians, chickpea rissoles, bean stews and falafels make a great protein choice.
- Sharing plates are a good choice as they encourage children to explore new tastes. Many restaurants offer tasting or sharing plates which include olives, marinated vegetables, cheese and dips such hummus, tzatziki and baba ghanoush.
- Burgers will always remain a firm favourite. Ask for it to be served on a wholegrain or sourdough bun instead of a white burger bun and ensure that if ordering chips on the side, it’s a small portion. Another great option is to ask for rice and salad instead of chips.