Kids' Restaurant Meals Healthy? Don't Go There!

Big surprise!  Children's meals at restaurants are still unhealthy! And we're not just talking about McD's and Burger King.

According to a new study of the "nutritional quality of meals for children on the menus of the nation’s largest chain restaurants ... 91 percent do not even meet the standards set by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program," as reported by the NYT's Stephanie Strom.

Just five years ago, Strom writes, a similar study found that 99 percent of kids' restaurant meals were unhealthy so I guess we've made some progress.  But not nearly enough. Strom notes that even though restaurants are now bragging about their "healthier" options for kids, truly healthy meals have gone from one percent to only three percent of what's offered.  Not nearly enough, experts agree.

Strom singled out in her story Subway, which does not offer sugared sodas with its kids meals, but offers water or nonfat milk instead.  At the other end?  Applebee's grilled cheese on sourdough bread with fries and 2 percent chocolate milk, though the restaurant says kids can also order grilled chicken and broccoli for a healther entree.  Yeah.  I bet that sells.

All Subway kids' meals met the criteria, according to the story.

As the mother of a child who could care less about food, we rarely visit fast food or chain restaurants.  I'm happy to say that my son loves broccoli and raspberries and will even eat salmon.  That's not to say he wouldn't live on hamburgers every night of the week if I let him.

Or that, sadly, he hasn't also developed my love for good bread and, forgive me health food gods, M&Ms.

I guess the best we can do is limit what our kids eat as long as we can.  I'm running out of rope with my son, who turns 12 in June and pretty much does what he wants to do these days, now that I can't pick him up and strong-arm him into his room anymore.

A treat once in a while won't hurt. But if the treats turn into breakfast, lunch and dinner (as I, also sadly, have to admit they once did for me, dining on Oreos for breakfast, yogurt with sprinkles for lunch, and Hershey kisses and other great candy for dinner), time for a different plan.


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