Just because you have tiny tots doesn’t mean you have to stop dining out. In fact, it’s important to teach table manners, appropriate restaurant behaviour and the ability to sit patiently to young children. Plan ahead. Do some homework ahead of time to find restaurants you know will have something on the menu that’s healthy and appeals to the whole family.
- Simple is often best when ordering for young ones, and a side dish of steamed vegetables can be the perfect order for toddlers.
- A plain baked potato or sweet potato mashed at the table is a great dinner with a bit of your chicken added to your kid’s plate.
- Restaurants with salad bars can be a good choice, as everyone can load up on their favourite veggies.
- Stir fries or pasta where you get to pick the add-ins are often good ways to find pre-schooler approved ingredients.
- Avoid the ‘kids menu’. It is usually full of high fat, high sodium selections with few vegetables or fruits. Instead, order from the adult menu and ask for a smaller portion, or ask for an extra plate and share your meal.
- Keep it healthy. Try ordering low fat salad, pasta with marinara sauce, chicken, baked fish, soup or a potato.
- Share a menu item with your child.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. My friend’s daughter in Grade 2 LOVES sushi - you don’t always have to limit toddlers to typical kids’ menus. Lots of kids enjoy the adventure of trying something different.
- Keep your kids busy – a dietician friend recommends asking for carrot sticks and dip right away while you wait for the main meal to arrive.
- If you do opt for fast food, try to stick with a plain hamburger, fruit, milk and a salad.
- Encourage kids to order fat free milk, plain water or make your own ‘soda’ by mixing equal parts fruit juice and sparkling water.
Until next time, keep well,
Judy Foodie (Judy Scott Welden)