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You Scream… I Scream… We all Scream for… Healthy!?!

By on August 31, 2011

by The Restaurant Mom

In 2007 when I first started asking parents, especially moms, what was important to them when they went out to eat with their kids, ‘healthy menu options for my kids’ was one of the thirty attributes important to them. Although it has bouncing around positions 13 through 15 in the past 2 years, that hot button has moved up into the top ten, currently in position #7. Is there really a shift in our mindset? Do we want restaurants to offer healthier menu items or do we indulge when we go out to eat? This mom would say it’s a combination of both, with the recognition that we don’t eat out more often because there’s not enough healthy stuff out there – that to get healthier foods to eat, we have to buy them at a grocery store and eat them at home.

Two initiatives were recently rolled out by two well-known organizations; the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) both aimed at healthier eating for kids.

ChooseMyPlate.gov (USDA)

The goal of the USDA was ultimately to simplify the traditional food pyramid. They did so by summarizing the daily nutritional requirements into a plate with key messages: make half your plate fruits and vegetables, at least half your grains whole grains, the remaining quarter portion of the plate for proteins, and switch to fat free or 1% low-fat milk products. ChooseMyPlate.gov

Kids Live Well (NRA)

The National Restaurant Association launched the Kids LiveWell program in collaboration with Healthy Dining to help parents and children select healthful menu options when dining out. Restaurants that participate in the voluntary program commit to offering healthful meal items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium. HealthyDiningFinder.com/kids_livewell

So it begs the question – who’s driving the healthy dining bus? Is it the parents or other organizations? But at the end of the day, does it really matter? A separate study done by NPD Group last year said that 70% of consumers choose indulgent items when they eat out; that although they intended to choose a ‘healthier’ item before they went to the restaurant that when it came right down to it, when they got there they chose the more indulgent item. Is that what we are doing with our kids too? Are we telling them on the way to the restaurant that they have to choose something healthier and then we let them pick the fried items when the server comes? The USDA and NRA providing tools for parents to make healthier choices are definitely steps in the right direction. However, the reality is that kids need to eventually learn to make those choices on their own and will even eat healthier if they realize that they made the decision. They need strong direction, lots of experimentation with new tastes and flavors, and encouragement from parents and other adults in their life to make the right decision.


SUMMERTIME IS A WONDERLAND OF FOODS AT THEIR PEAK SO GET OUT AND ENJOY THE HEAT WITH A FLAVORFUL BITE TO EAT. GO TO WWW.FAMILYMAGAZINE.BIZ AND CLICK ON THE RESTAURANT MOM WHICH WILL TAKE YOU TO THE BLOG AT MYKIDSPLATE.COM TO WRITE A REVIEW IF YOUR EXPECTATIONS THEY DID NOT MEET.

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