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What’s not on the menu?

June 22, 2009

Eating out is no longer a rarity. People do it all the time in this society, even with their kids in tow. Besides the fact that it is very expensive (though I have seen some forums out their trying to convince us that it ends up being the same price to cook at home), the choices are not always that wonderful, especially for kids.

I like to eat healthy, work out, be in shape, not feel a floaty around my waist when I sit down, etc., but when I go out I am always tempted to go ALL out. My over honed self-discipline is usually working in full force and I keep myself more or less within the limits, but not everyone has good self control when it comes to looking at the menu and most don’t really understand the consequences to many of the choices before them.

I was thinking about this as I fed my DD the other day. As she hasn’t gained weight since December and her waist has shrunk to last year’s clothes size (a lot for a toddler) I was tempted to pull out anything that was loaded in fat for her to eat. Instead (oh, look, my over honed self-discipline applies itself to my children too! Is anyone surprised?) she ate scrambled eggs with cheese and peas and had strawberries with ice cream for desert (hey, a girl needs desert!). But I am not always going to be there to make dinner choices for her and quite honestly, even when I am there I would like her to start making good decisions about food on her own.

As I watched her eat I remembered a family with young children that I waited on about four years ago. When I asked what the kids wanted to eat they ordered the food themselves: the fish fry. Okay, pretty normal choice. What wasn’t normal was that they then (both of them, mind you) asked if I could replace the french fries with a salad.

What? A salad? I was shocked to my very core. These were not teenager girls watching their weight, this was a boy and girl around six and eight years old. I remember comparing them at the time to my nephews around the same age. It wasn’t their mother telling me to replace the fries, it was all them.

So I thought about it. What was that mother doing so well that her children could make the decision to eat properly at such a young age. I mean, come on, have you ever heard of a kid who doesn’t like french fries? I haven’t. So taste couldn’t really be a factor. Neither could allergies that I know of. As the memories circulated through my head my curiosity grew. What can I do in order to get my kids to make the right decisions on food and not make it feel like a “’cause mommy says so” deal.

the idea came to me that when we get tot eh restaurant we could give them two choices: they could get french fries with their meal if they choose to have water or milk as their drink, or they could choose a soda for their drink and sub and salad for their fries. When they ask why I can teach them about calories, fat, fiber, vitamins, energy, minerals and all over healthy eating but then when it comes time to order it will be all their choice. Do you think this would work? I haven’t tried it out yet and it might be awhile still since funds are low and eating out just doesn’t happen with our family at the moment, but you can bet I am definitely going to try it as soon as I can!

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