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Family Eating Out

Survival Tips for Eating Out

During the busy summer season, eating out can be unavoidable at times. Whether going through the fast food drive-thru or sitting down at your favorite family restaurant, it is possible to make healthful choices for your family. Here is our go-to-guide for quick and easy tips when dining with kids.

Beverages: When ordering for kids, ask for water, lowfat milk or 100% juice in place of sugary beverages and specialty drinks. You can even request half water and half juice to help keep juice portions in check. If looking to provide a “treat” for your meal out, offer something that still provides important nutrients for growing bodies, such as lowfat chocolate milk.

Starters: Sometimes the “freebies” can be great, but it's an easy way for tiny tummies to fill up before the main course arrives. From bread and popcorn to tortilla chips and breadsticks, each restaurant has their own signature starter item. Simply ask for half the normal portion of what they'd bring or hold the starters all together.

Entrees: For the main event, don't be afraid to “special order” off the kids menu. If ordering a grilled cheese sandwich, ask for it to be made with whole wheat bread. For pasta and sauce, check to see if they offer whole grain pasta. In place of French fries, oftentimes you can ask for applesauce, carrot sticks, grapes, a baked potato or rice in its place. Check to see what's available as an alternative and most of the time, your server will be happy to help you find a substitution.

Desserts: If your child's meal automatically comes with a dessert, ask for it to go so they're not getting bombarded with too many calories in one sitting. If your family does decide to order something, use it as an opportunity to teach about mindfulness and portion control. Showing that it's possible to enjoy a few bites rather than devouring an oversized sweet treat is a great lesson to teach at an early age.