Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More Thoughts on Kids Menus - Some Alternatives

Today's article in the New York Times provides an interesting commentary on kids menus in restaurants. I don't agree with the approach of forcing kids to try new things touted by a restaurant owner featured in the piece. Forcing kids to eat things often backfires, and it has the potential to set kids up for a negative relationship with food and for power struggles with parents. However, I do love this line from the article: "It's about nutrition, it's about family; you go right down the line. And the children's menu is about the opposite - it's about making it quick, making it easy, and moving on." Although I've written on this topic before, I think it's a topic worth revisiting - especially as we head into the summer months when families typically go out to eat more during vacations.

While the children's menus available in many restaurants can make family dining more affordable, I would encourage parents - and for that matter, restaurant owners too - to consider options other than the traditional children's menu fare (you know what I'm talking about - chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, pizza, etc.) for children dining out. Wouldn't it be great if kids could explore new foods without parents having to pay an arm and a leg?! If smaller sized and priced options for entrees are not available, here are a few tips:
  • Consider ordering an appetizer size of a more interesting dish.
  • Have 2 kids - if available :) - share an entree. This can be a good exercise in negotiation skills as they work out an agreement between them. If sharing between kids is not an option, consider ordering an entree and wrap up half of it to take home for a future meal.
  • Take advantage of buffets when possible. They offer a great opportunity to try little bits of lots of things without committing to an entire dish of anything.
  • Allow for some accommodations for children's tastes (e.g., sauce on the side, vegetable substitutions.)
  • Act as if there is no children's menu. This may sound crazy to some, but see what your kids can come up with if you challenge them a bit.
  • If possible, have your kids look over the regular menu in advance, either online or in print, so that they can start to think and plan about what they might like to try.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Consistency in Parenting and Feeding? How Much Does It Really Matter?

How consistent do you think you need to be with your parenting, and especially with your approach to feeding your kids? My colleague, Katja Rowell, M.D., from Family Feeding Dynamics asked me to address this question in my recent guest post on her blog. I'd be curious to hear your own experiences with this issue.