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Pass the Pistachio Pork, please - No More Kid's Menus

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:36pm

It’s only been in the last 6 months that my DS has eaten enough to earn the right to order his own meal at a restaurant. Yes, we’ve purchased Kid’s meals at some of our favorite steakhouses and fast casual restaurants but, with the intention of sharing with Mom. It’s only been recently though that we have ventured out to a wider variety of restaurants that offer kids meals and allowed him to order his own.

At first I was enchanted with the kid placemats that he is finally old enough to enjoy. He happily completes mazes and hidden pictures games while I enjoy a glass of wine or just a little down time. However, then it comes time to order. As mentioned in a recent NY Times article, Don’t Point that menu at my Child, please, kids menus frequently seem to feature those items that promote both unhealthy eating and a limited range of taste. How many times can a child eat chicken fingers and fries in a row…quite a lot it turns out.

Unfortunately, like other slippery slopes of parenting, “just this once you may have chicken fingers and fries”, has turned into a once or twice a week phenomenon. Like other insidious commercial messages, this one encourages children to believe that ‘kid food” consists only of pizza, chicken fingers and hot dogs, with some high sugar, low nutrition concoction for dessert. And of course, the requisite toy that comes with kids meals in fast food restaurants seals the deal.

I was encouraged to read that the tide is changing a bit. More and more companies, including McDonalds’s and Disney offer fruit rather than fries as a choice for a side. It’s still possible for me to slyly order the healthier choice. But, to a large extent, healthier and more diverse eating will be led by my choice of restaurants. Alas, some of our old standbys must fall by the wayside if I expect not to raise a “chicken fingers” child. I’ll bring my own maze books and dot-to-dot sheets from now on.

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