Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Myth: Fast food is not a healthy choice for my child.

Mother and daughter sharing a fast food meal.Answer: BUSTED but that depends…

Fast food, like other restaurants, is all about what choices you and your child make. Many options are high in fat, salt and sugar. In an effort to offer healthier foods for children, some fast food restaurants provide kids’ meals. However, Taco Bell just announced that they will begin discontinuing their kids’ meals and toys this month, an effort that will be nationwide by January. It’s the first fast food restaurant to do so. Part of the reason is low sales of these meals.

If you and your child are looking for healthy food choices at the fast food restaurant, here are some tips:
  • If the restaurant has kids’ meals, look for ones that include water or fat-free milk instead of soda or juice.
  • Ask for meal options that include fresh fruit or veggies as side dishes instead of fries or onion rings.
  • Choose ketchup or mustard for sandwich dressings instead of mayonnaise-based dressings.
  • Ask for extra toppings like tomatoes and lettuce instead of cheese for sandwiches to keep the fat content down.
  • Eat s-l-o-w-l-y. This may be the hardest tip of all especially if your child wants to get to the play area quickly or you have to be somewhere after eating. Eat too fast and your brain doesn’t have time to signal your stomach that you are full.
  • Probably the best tip of all…your child watches what you eat so remember that you are a good role model. Make healthy choices when eating out.
Visit the MissouriFamilies website at for more information about making healthy food choices.

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933  

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