According to Nutrition Unplugged and Technomic it looks like things are beginning to change, according to the Kids and Moms Consumer Trend Report by Technomic. This restaurant consultant asked 1,200 kids ages 6 to 12 about their dining habits. About 80% of the children surveyed said they have tried to eat more fruit in the past 6 months, and 77% said they tried to eat more vegetables. In fact, it looks like older children are skipping the chicken fingers and opting for healthier items from the adult menu.
Carolyn O’Neil wrote about the new dining-out data in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She interviewed registered dietitian and blogger Janice Bissex, co-author of The Moms Guide to Meal Makeovers. ”If eating out is a frequent occurrence, some ground rules should be set,” she said. She recommends limiting soft drink consumption and encouraging water, lowfat milk or juice as healthier beverage options. But what concerns Bissex most is not offered on kids’ menus. ”I’d like to see more whole-wheat bread for sandwiches, cut up fruit and baby carrots. And instead of pasta in butter, I’d prefer to see pasta and marinara sauce with broccoli.”
Fortunately, some restaurants are beginning to introduce better-for-you kids’ options. That’s great to see. But even so, don’t feel limited to “kid food.” Don’t let the restaurant define what’s appealing and appropriate for kids. Consider asking for half portions from the adult side of the menu and encourage your kids to try new foods — going beyond the chicken fingers and fries. It’s a topic I addressed recently in the Chicago Tribune.