November 19, 2019

Breaking Free from the Kids' Menu

“In most restaurants in America, the children’s menu is where you’ll find the least nutritious foods: Chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, pizza and French fries are the standard “kid friendly” offerings.

But that wasn’t always the case. In the 1920s and ’30s, restaurants offered their youngest patrons their healthiest meals. Back then children’s menus were designed to promote healthy eating habits: They featured meals like poached eggs, vegetable soups, lamb chops and even “vegetable plates” with buttered peas, carrots and asparagus.

But as fast food became cheap and ubiquitous, the nutritional quality of children’s menus took a nose dive. Today many parents and caregivers take it for granted that kid-friendly foods must be fried, greasy, salty or sugary to win over their target audience.

This seismic shift in children’s eating habits is chronicled in a new book called “Kid Food,” which provides a blueprint for how to raise healthy eaters in a fast-food culture. The book’s author, Bettina Elias Siegel, a nationally recognized food writer, debunks myths about children’s eating habits and explains how parents can advocate for healthier food environments, whether by pushing legislators to regulate junk food ads that target kids, asking schools not to hand out candy as rewards, or encouraging sports teams not to give children sports drinks and sugary half-time snacks.”

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