My husband and I enjoy eating out at our favorite restaurants on the weekends, which gives me a nice break from cooking during the week. One of the main factors in determining where we end up going is now based upon what kind of food they will serve so that all THREE of us are getting a good nutritious meal. We have a two-year old, who thankfully has been a great eater up until this point of his life. We have always focused on giving him a wide variety of healthy foods so that he develops a taste and palate for things at a young age. One of my newest pet peeves is glancing over the so-called menu for kids…
I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to shake my head when I look at a “kids menu” at most restaurants these days. I find myself asking why “fair food” consisting of fried chicken fingers, french fries and corn dogs are the main choices for our little ones to choose from?
As casual of a topic over kid menus might sound, the true agenda behind the motive of the food industry is far from casual. They believe they are helping provide “easy” and “kid-friendly” dishes that they know kids will happily chow down, which serves the purpose of getting food in their bellies without having to actually provide real nourishment. It boils down to what is cheap, easy to transfer and has the longest shelf life for the highest profit for most conventional restaurants in America.
However routine and typical the plan of these kid menus are, I simply cannot overlook the fact that it is the “norm.” Just because they are younger, smaller and possibly more picky than adults, does not mean we should feed them differently or deprive them of the nutrition that adults get on a separate menu. Smaller portions, yes, but deplete every amount of nutrient by frying them out while adding a side of Acrylamide (a toxic substance that forms when foods are cooked at extreme temperatures) just doesn’t settle well with me.
Our kids are constantly growing day by day. Their immune systems are learning how to stay strong and they need proper food that acts as fuel, not as poison, for their young bodies.
What we fail to see in the big picture is that we are in fact poisoning our kids with the standard American diet, which includes almost every item on a kid menu at most conventional restaurants.
We have a blind eye to a big problem that can lead not only to childhood obesity, but to chronic health issues that stem into adulthood. We are setting our kids up for failure; failure to teach them what nutrition actually looks like, and failure to provide them a fighting chance of being disease free, healthy thriving adults. The daily choices made now are shaping future habits for them later in life when they will be the ones determining what goes on their plate.
We no longer think or even hesitate to make a pattern of habitually grabbing our bag of food in a drive through window. Fried, genetically modified, chemical-laced, toxic and empty “food” has become the norm in our American standard diet. It’s all about fast and convenience with no regard to nutrition at all. We have a choice in this matter, and it starts with us as the parents making the decisions and choices when it comes to what our kids eat and what they see us eating. There is power in real food, legitimate power in making or breaking the capability of how our bodies function, now and in the future.
I honestly see a difference in the health of our children in the ones who eat a majority of well balanced proportioned foods, than not. Their bodies fight off illness faster, their immune systems are stronger and they typically have better energy and sleep patterns. When the body is given whole foods and nutrients that help it thrive, it’s going to function much more efficiently than when its fed junk.
We need to take things back to the basics when it comes to what proper nutrition is. What is a balanced diet? My personal goal for our family is ensuring that we get veggies, fruits, protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates into most every meal. These are the essentials for us, and this is what I focus on when making our meals, or picking something off of a restaurant menu.
So, now we have our “go-to” places that we know have quality kid menus that actually provides the same kind of foods that my husband and I would plan to eat for a meal. These menus aren’t loaded down with cheese pizza, hamburgers and nuggets or what I sarcastically refer to as “fair food.” Some of our favorite places to eat now include hummus, cucumbers, grilled chicken and quinoa on their kid menus! Talk about a revolutionary idea: Serve the same quality foods on the adult menu as the kid menu. If the restaurant doesn’t have a quality kid menu, choose a few core essential food groups I’ve listed above that you could order as “side” items for them instead.
This has to become an area of more importance for us as parents and it should be a bigger priority in the lives of our kids. You have the reigns when it comes to what goes in their bodies, setting the habits now that hopefully stick as they mature. No restaurant is perfect, and there will obviously be times for moderation where your kid eats a pizza or quesadilla. I’m more so speaking to the long term, daily choices that occur week after week and year after year.
So the next time you sit down at a restaurant to eat, I’m going to challenge you to veto the standard fried food kid menu and switch it up to more adult-themed, nutrient-based foods that will actually benefit your sweet ones little bodies. You call the shots. You have the ability to veto what doesn’t best serve your child.