Imagine this scenario: You didn’t prepare a home-cooked meal for your young child and it is nearing dinnertime. Is it really okay for him or her to have the same food as you when dining out? We explore deeper into the heart of this question.
Your children have extremely sensitive taste buds and no to little seasoning is required when preparing child-friendly meals. The consumption of excess sodium and processed foods may lead to high blood pressure in adulthood and place extra stress on the kidneys and liver, which are the organs responsible for filtering waste. As such, it is best not to introduce them to heavily seasoned foods too early.
Most dishes sold commercially are laden with seasoning to placate the seasoned taste buds of adults, who have been accustomed to deep, complex flavours and smells. Inculcating a preference for healthier foods from young can prevent childhood obesity and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood cholesterol.
If your diet is mainly plant-based with whole foods and you frequent restaurants serving healthier food choices and healthier cooking methods, it is likelier that herbs and natural spices are used to flavour your foods. If so, it is likely that you can portion out a bit for your child’s meal.
Now, what if you don’t specifically pay attention to your diet? When dining out with children, it wouldn’t hurt to select healthier dishes to accommodate their diet and give ourselves a break from all that greasy, overly-flavoured food.
If you are dining at a restaurant, it is likely that there will be a kid’s menu where you can choose from. Otherwise, you can put in a special request to make the meal child-friendly by adding more vegetables, reducing salt, omitting sauces and/or switching to brown rice instead of white rice.
It could be slightly more difficult if you’re having your meals at a casual eatery such as a food court or hawker centre. You can browse this list of eating light at a hawker centre to make prudent choices about which dish to choose which you can also share with your child. Some parents bring along a flask of hot water to rinse off sauces and flavouring before feeding their children.
Are you unsure of which dish to order that is suitable for both you and your child? As a general rule, choose soup-based dishes, opt for whole grain rice or noodles and go for dishes which use healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, sous vide or baking.
On special occasions such as family gatherings or birthdays, it wouldn’t hurt to surprise your child with an ice cream or dessert. Sorbets are made of fruit and can be a tasty yet healthy alternative to cake and ice cream.
In conclusion, children can share our meals, but if they are doing so, it would be nice to make adjustments and pay attention to the type of dish we order.
Here are more tips on how to help your children eat better when dining out. Parents, what do you usually order when you dine out with your children?