Should I order them the burger and fries, spaghetti or chicken fingers?
As I sit in a restaurant in Niagara Falls and look at the menu, I am curiously trying to find the best option to order my kids who have been eating in restaurants for the past 2 days. Not only have they eaten less than ideal meals, the ice cream, lolly pops, and juices that accompany the meals are all part in parcel of a weekend away! Right?
When I ordered the kids mac & cheese for dinner tonight, I was a bit shocked to see kraft dinner in a bowl. I literally mean kraft dinner. It was macaroni noodles with powdered cheese. I am not sure what was more frustrating, the $10 it cost to feed them a bowl of kraft dinner, or that they were eating KD for dinner!
This got me thinking about what has happened to the food industry. I may not have thought twice about the quality of the food had I ordered them chicken fingers, a burger or grilled cheese, but the mac n cheese got me thinking. Unfortunately, I know a little more than I should about the quality of the fast food industry (yes this includes restaurant food) and the reality is that it is nearly impossible to find meals that are “nutritious” in most restaurant chains. The meat, bread, cheese, oils, and seasonings are generally processed and full of added salt, sugar and preservatives. Please know I am generalizing here and not specifically talking about any given restaurant.
So what do we do as parents? Not take our children out to eat? Bring our own food? Tell our kids they are only allowed to eat the least desirable option on the menu? No, I don’t agree with any of those options. But here is what I do suggest….
Before you go out to eat, try to do your due diligence by looking online and finding a restaurant that has options for kids that are “cleaner”. As an example, go to an Italian restaurant and order pizza or pasta with meat balls, or try to find a Greek restaurant that makes chicken shish kabob instead of breaded and fried chicken fingers. Order Rice with chicken fingers instead of French fries to minimize the amount of oil.
Tonight I was about to order the kids drinks (as they were included in the meal) and almost automatically said apple juice and orange juice, as that is what the kids have been ordering since we arrived. At home we don’t drink any juice but I found myself making it part of the meal. At dinner I asked for water as they had been consuming way too much sugar all around.
At the end of the day, this weekend will not make or break my kids. The reason for this blog was not really about the eating out problem as much as it was to say that so many of the foods we eat at home are not much better. Unfortunately, meals that are not homemade and bought prepared, are also likely to be processed in the same manner. We can make exceptions when eating out or going to some ones house, but what we do at home must be free from these harmful ingredients.
The bottom line is that the food industry is not trustworthy. Don’t rely on labels that say “healthy” unless you know why they are calling it healthy. For all you know they could be calling it healthy because it has protein in it, but the quality of that meat and the ingredients that are holding it together, flavoring it, or preserving it may be harmful in the long term.
We as parents MUST know how to read a label and see what it contains. So many things we buy nowadays are filled with…………well crap!
Let your kids eat ice cream, cake and cookies when they are out. Let them order from the menu and eat kraft dinner. Don’t let them go home and willingly give them a so-called healthy food that you would avoid IF you only knew.
We can very easily learn about what foods to avoid and what foods to fill our homes with some simple eye opening. This past week I learned 3 new ingredients that were in almost all of my boxes crackers and cereals (that I thought were amazing because they were reputable brands and said all natural….) Turns out they are also in my cleaning products.
In the upcoming workshops we will be giving out a list of several ingredients to avoid. Place that list on your fridge and just start to be aware. That’s all any of us can do. We can’t know it all and we are all going to make decisions as to which ones to let slide and which to stand strong (pick and choose our battles). I do believe that many of you would likely replace several products in your fridge and cupboards with new and improved alternatives once you are given the choice. Learn how some of these additives are affecting your child’s nervous system, behaviours and future health and you will likely go out of your way to look for them.
Moderation and common sense right? Sometimes we don’t know the common sense because we don’t know it’s even bad for us.
Hope to see you all over the next couple of months!