Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Restaurant rehab: Kill the Kid’s Menus

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You know what sucks? Kid’s menus. In theory they make sense; children generally don’t eat as much as adults and it’s nice for parents to have less expensive options when eating out with their kids. In practice, however, they suck. Most kid’s menus offer processed and fried bland options. When you think of a kid’s menu what do you think of? I usually come up with burgers, chicken fingers, pasta, and lots of french fries.

Children don’t need entirely different options from adults. They can handle spice and flavour. They’re also highly susceptible to suggestion. If you imply to kids that they’re not going to like something or it might be too spicy for them they’re far more likely to confirm those suggestions. They’ll live up (or down) to expectations.

I know that kids can be fussy. Just ask my mum. I could spot a speck of onion a mile away. I don’t think that this should mean that they should be offered entirely separate meal options from adults, whether at home or at a restaurant. What kind of a lesson does that teach children? What kind of eaters does that mean we’ll be raising? Another generation of people with unadventurous palates that prefer bland, processed, fried foods. More people who dislike vegetables and think that a meal can be complete with the only sign of a vegetable being ketchup, and maybe a tiny cup of mayonnaise laden coleslaw.

Restaurant owners and chefs, please consider the nutritional balance of meals. Both for children and adults. It’s not a meal without vegetables. And no, ketchup is not a vegetable. Please consider eschewing traditional kid’s menus and simply offer smaller plates of adult meals with kid-friendly names. We need to stop teaching kids that they won’t like flavourful nutritious food.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

5 thoughts on “Restaurant rehab: Kill the Kid’s Menus

  1. YES THANK YOU.

    It’s such an annoyance for us, when we take our kids to restaurants. You’re quite right, with three children the price point is hard to argue with, but the food options are always the same bland shit: cheese pizza, pasta with plain sauce, mac & cheese, chicken fingers & fries. My two older boys have flat-out refused to order from kids’ menus already, because they don’t LIKE those foods – they want the flavourful stuff that we adults are eating, thank you very much.

    We have started ordering a range of entrees and sharing them out. It works, but it is silly that we should have to. There’s a simple fix – have all the entree items available in “standard” or “child-sized” portions, and just charge half as much for the smaller size. Done! Easy-peasy!

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    • Thanks Hannah!

      Considering that many menu items contain a days worth of calories many adults could use the kid’s menus too. I know that I’d love to be able to have room for a main and a dessert!

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  2. Thanks for this post Diana! I can’t for the life of me understand why restaurants can’t simply make a “children’s menu” (because they really do only eat a fraction of an adult dish!) based on their own in house items. Perhaps just modified/simplified a degree or two (i.e. mild phad thai, no bean sprouts, small portion). It would be a lot more fun to encourage your child to try something new as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely love your straightforward talk. I agree would much rather have a “child size” portion. As mentioned in the comments why not have half poriton vs whole portion. I also like the idea of getting several menu items and sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love many of your posts, but I especially love this one!!!!

    Like

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