Michelle Obama spoke to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) today about making healthier choices for kids on their menus. For kids selections there is mostly fries, burgers, mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. I agree that kids do tend to stick with what they know and will wail at the thought of putting something different in their mouth – I have seen it happen many a time. I do think that chefs could be more creative with their presentation for the kids.
I have to mention my grandmother here because she could make anything healthy and more appealing to a small child by making it into something – a happy face or a goofy face made with vegetables and cheese. Pancakes became bears with honey. As a child I was a terribly picky eater and ate the same foods day in and day out. It would take me an hour just to eat scrambled eggs if they were not cooked the way I liked them. The feel of the food in my mouth was a big deal; if it was slimy or mushy it would just sit in my mouth and I couldn’t get it down – hell no – no way. I literally gagged on certain foods. Thank god I grew up and out of that!
As a mother of one son with a hearty appetite that ate well and ate his mother’s cooking, I was blessed. There were not many things that I would make that he rejected. Going out he tended to like the ‘adult’ side of the menu and had a much more sophisticated palate than I had as a child. He loved tuna salad from the age of two. Ate hot sauce and spicy foods that I never would have touched. Being my only child I gave him everything I ate and most of the time he liked it. He like sushi the first time he ate it when he was around seven, even with a little wasabi.
Kids are a challenge, good eating habits are suppose to come from home, just like values. Yes, restaurants need to offer adults and children healthier choices but, going out should be a ‘treat’. A real treat–not something that after you pick the kids up from after-school care you drive thru and eat in the car. If you are going to go out it should be to a place to also teach your kids how to behave in public and by that I mean without running around with fries in their hand. I am a big believer in sharing, hey they are big portions anyway, and it gives kids the chance to taste something new and it’s our job as parents to encourage them to broaden their little taste buds. Just ask for an extra plate…remember that one?
The kinds of food that I will choose to eat out will most likely be ethnic foods; I love good Mexican, real homemade Indian food and Thai food. I will seek out the places that take pains to make their food from scratch and ‘treat’ myself on occasion. The kinds of food I love, yet cannot make properly at home. Yes, portions are enormous and a plate in a restaurant has twice as many calories as the same plate of food at home. Slice it down the middle; Eat half of what is served.
Remember those days when if a plate was put in front of you at someones house, it was bad manners not to eat it? What happened to that kind of respect?
Again, here, I will mention that the package of something will not make a person happier or better or feel something they’ve never felt before. That’s ludicrous…
Eventually, kids will learn to eat well if we set a good example. A plate of good food should be set in front of them at meal time and they should be thankful and eat it and feel comforted and satisfied. Ultimately, learning to eat healthy meals should come from home. It’s no one else’s responsibility but the parents with or without healthier choices on the menu.