Whether you're cruising through a drive-thru, hurriedly scanning a menu at Applebee's as your kids complain they're starving, or poring over a mile-long Chinese takeout food menu at your kitchen table, it can be hard figuring out what the healthiest choices
are for your family when you're not making the food yourself. Keep these simple healthy guidelines in mind and you'll pick the best possible choices wherever you're eating.
What you can do:
Make special requests.
You don't have to stick with what's on the menu. If the kiddie one lists spaghetti with meatballs marinara, you can request strips of grilled chicken instead. And if there's pepperoni pizza, by all means, ask them to take off the pepperoni and instead add broccoli or another veggie your child likes.
Keep It simple.
Stay away from creamy sauces, extra cheese, double burgers or double anything (unless it's double veggies)! If you're having Mexican, try fajitas or soft-shell tacos with chicken, grilled fish or beans. If you're doing Chinese, choose chicken, shrimp or tofu with broccoli and sauce or go the extra mile and get the dish steamed with sauce on the side. And if you're eating Italian, ask for pasta with a protein like chicken or vegetables and marinara, then sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.
Avoid getting more than one fried food at a time.
Quick lesson: A "fried food" typically means someone has taken a healthy food such as chicken, fish, potatoes or veggies and dunked it in a vat of oil. That oil adds significantly more calories and fat ... and can set kids up for weight gain, fatigue and even mood swings. You want to limit the amount of fried foods your child downs in one meal, not to mention during the day. So if your child wants chicken nuggets at the fast food restaurant, skip the fries.
Check out all of Joy Bauer's recipes, ideas and healthy eating tips on ParentsConnect.com. Go!