A lot of people these days are calorie crazy and with reason. In the US, obesity has reached frightening proportions, and while restaurants are not the only ones to be blamed, most people point their finger at them in hopes to fix the situation.
I have been asked many times which restaurants offer the most nutritious menu for kids. That is a tough question as a lot of people define nutritious as the amount of calories a certain meal offers. As much as I would hate to admit it, my answer, 99% of the time is: take him/her home. At home you have more control of portion size, ingredients and also, you could enjoy a fun activity together. However, parents MUST become educated, if not, they can do worse damage than the restaurants they claim are meccas of fat.
Eating out is entertainment, a treat, something parents and kids can do together also. Against popular beliefs, you CAN get nutritious foods at restaurants; all fine dining, casual dining, fast casual and even fast food, offer great options to keep your nutritious mind in check.
Subway for example offers a Veggie Delite sandwich, that if served with wheat bread and NO cheese (yuck!) in combination with apple slices and 100% juice. On this deliciousness comes at a high price – a whooping calorie intake of…285 calories (yes, I am being sarcastic). Again, keep in mind that, should you decide to get a soda instead of the juice, then that count is no longer accurate. Subway leads the chart offering healthy alternatives.
Do not think for a second that Burger King can’t compete with those numbers though. If you order the Macaroni and Cheese meal that comes with Apple Fries (without caramel sauce, of course) and Apple Juice, then your calorie count is also at a low 285. KFC also offers a low-calorie meal. They offer a grilled chicken drumstick (notice I said drumstick, as in one). It does come with a very small corn on the cob as a side and if ordered with the unsweetened tea and string cheese as dessert, brings the total calorie count to only 270.
All fast food venues offer different options – you just have to be selective and knowledgeable about their offerings. There is no doubt that there are some options that contain a bunch of other stuff that is not healthy. If I went to Dairy Queen for example (sorry DQ) and ordered the original kid’s cheeseburger with french fries and a soda (non-diet) and went with the chocolate dily bar dessert, then I (or my kid) would have consumed 973 calories with, get this…1,450 mg of sodium. That is bad – really bad. But, there are options – DQ offers much lower calorie-filled foods as well.
I am happy to say that I have personally visited all of the client’s I work with and they all offer options. That is the key – give the public options. Let them decide what they want to eat and what they will feed their kids. Educate them and explain what their options are. Bans on happy meals or the toys that are used to reward kids will not fix the problem. The problem starts and finishes with education. And please, make your kids exercise for crying out loud. I don’t care how good they eat or how few calories they eat, if they are not strengthening their muscles and fortifying their bones, they are going to grow to be thin, yes, but also weak and more prompt to disease and potentially suffer from preventable injuries.
No, I am not a doctor, but I do posses common sense (for the most part). If you are fat and pass on fat habits, your kids will be, most likely…fat. If you practice healthy eating, exercise regularly, then most likely, your kids would look up to you and do the same. I am sick and tired of hearing people complain about how fat this country is getting…yet these same people are on a couch watching television with potato chips in one hand and a 32 oz drink on the other. Habits are contagious – get up and move. If you don’t like what’s on the menu, then don’t go…but don’t go to Walmart either and buy half the deli. Moderation…don’t even get me started on that…
And here I leave you with some examples of low-calorie meals from some of the most-often targeted restaurant chains for their “horrible nutritious” practices.
Be happy, be healthy and stop whining…