Every family likes to get out once in a while, and that usually entails dining out. If you are a parent who cares about your children’s eating habits, then dining out can also mean stressing over the types of food your children are putting into their bodies. After all, it’s not like you’re at home and can say, “This is what I’m serving for dinner, and only this.” So, how do you teach your children to make healthier choices when dining out? Here are some tips for doing takeout night right:
Lead by Example.
This is the simplest concept to get, and sometimes the hardest to apply. You can’t exactly preach to your children on the importance of eating healthy if every time the family goes out for dinner, you opt for the all-you-can-eat fried food buffet. Stick to healthy choices, yourself, and your children will follow suit.
The Sides Matter.
It’s easy for kids to become preoccupied with the main course – or even with the desert, especially when you’re ordering from a kid’s menu that offers a little bit of everything. Make it a point to stress the side dish choices when putting together your order. This is a chance to add some healthy to your children’s meals, even when they opt for fried chicken fingers or pizza. Go for fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible; for example, broccoli and apple slices can really round out a meal, whereas sides like French fries and macaroni-and-cheese can just weigh it down.
Narrow it Down.
With so many tantalizing choices, restaurant menus can be confusing for children. You can help them out in a major way by narrowing down their choices. Pick out two or three menu items that you know are healthy, and then ask your children to choose their meals from those options. Not only will this enable them to make healthier choices, but it will also empower and inspire them to eat what they indicated as their personal picks. This works not only in restaurants, but when choosing items through sites like FoodyDirect, where they’ll be making deliveries from several different places.
As a parent, it’s difficult to take children to any restaurant to eat and somehow ignore the desert cart. Fortunately, you can use this to your advantage. If you really want to encourage your children to make healthy meal choices while you are out, you can offer an incentive that will prompt them to choose wisely and clean their plates: Desert!
Skip on the Fountain Drinks.
You can significantly cut back on the amount of sugar and empty calories your children take in when dining out by limiting their fountain drink consumption. Encourage them to drink water, milk, or even water with lemon (if they crave some extra flavor). If you don’t want to be too extreme, you can allow them only one fountain drink–and no refills. Anything after the first drink should be water.
Takeout night doesn’t have to mean letting healthy eating habits go by the wayside. Just approach the dining out experience with a conscience and set some clear standards that your children will be inspired to stay within.