DO KIDS’ MENUS
Do More Harm Than Good? Kids can be picky eaters. This is a fact recognized by parents and restaurants alike — hence the classic children’s menu featured at many restaurants around the country. These menus are virtually identical: chicken tenders, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, french fries, and so on. Kids’ menus are loaded with fried foods and cheap carbs.
Some parents love the kids’ menu. It makes deciding on food easier. Or, at least, that’s what we tell ourselves. Kids’ menus are populated with foods practically every kid loves. But they have a dark side. Aside from poor nutrition, the kids’ menu changes the family dynamic. In an interview with Eater.com, television chef and host Alton Brown (who you may know from “Good Eats,” “Iron Chef America,” and “Cutthroat Kitchen”) said, “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever let your kid eat from the children’s menu at restaurants and never, ever, ever make your kid special food to allow them to avoid whatever the family is eating.” Why? During his “Alton Brown Live!” tour, he explained that it comes down to control. By giving kids the option of the children’s menu, you relinquish culinary control to your kids. The next time you go out as a family or you make a delicious meal at home, they are more likely to demand “their” food.
This is a habit a child can quickly adopt — and a habit that’s tough to break. Kids are picky eaters because, as parents and adults, we let them be picky eaters. We perpetuate bad habits. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In a Mom.me article, Dr. Cara Natterson suggests kids eat what the rest of the family eats. For instance, let them indulge in the appetizer menu, then build up to the entrée menu and let them share and sample your food. Encourage culinary exploration. When you encourage your kids to avoid the children’s menu, you give them an opportunity to expand their flavor horizons. More importantly, it helps them make healthier choices that aren’t loaded with fat and empty carbs. Make going out to dinner a learning experience, and before you know it, the phrase “kids’ menu” will have disappeared from your family’s vocabulary.
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