Can Dining Out With Young Kids be Healthy?

Going out to eat with kids is, to put it mildly, a challenge. First, you need to find a restaurant whose staff and patrons are forgiving to the outbursts, spills and occasional meltdowns that can occur while dining with kids.

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Taking the kids out to a restaurant doesn’t have to mean giving up on nutrition.

And then there’s also the menu. Pizza parlors and diners are perfect venues for pint-sized patrons, but greasy slices and chicken fingers are not really any mom’s idea of a balanced meal.

Here’s how some of the health-conscious moms of Vitals navigate the pitfalls of the kids menu when dining out:

Joelene: “Since my little one (she’s 4) never eats her own meal, we usually order something that we can share: plain chicken breast with a side of broccoli, pasta with sauce on the side (no butter), small salad, chicken consommé (always a winner), fresh carrots instead of French fries.

Gina: I’m lucky that my daughter — 2-years-old — isn’t that picky. We can usually try some pretty exotic restaurants with her  — including Japanese, Thai or even Himalayan. If you choose wisely, ethnic cuisine can be healthy since spices replace fat for flavor in a lot of these foods.

Stephanie: “I usually stick with kids’ menus because the portion sizes are smaller and they often include things that I would make at home as a special treat – grilled cheese sandwich, a hamburger, spaghetti and meatballs. While not the healthiest options, at least I know what goes into the recipes, and eating out is usually for a special occasion anyway, so I let them splurge a little bit.”

As a poor diet can put your child at an increased risk for diabetes, striving for health at every meal is very important. Learn more about diabetes with the Vitals Diabetes Patient Education Guide.