How can we help our kids to make smart and healthy decisions when we're out to eat? At home I limit the options available, but out at a restaurant, or (gasp) a fast food restaurant, there's countless options available.

You ask a great question. It is much easier to control what your kids eat when you are doing the grocery shopping and the dinner preparation. It gets trickier when tantalizing menu descriptions and savory smells taunt your children into choosing unhealthy foods. My advice is to have open dialogue with your kids about healthy food and nutrition starting at an early age. Get them interested in learning the benefits of eating healthfully and then lead by example in making good food choices both at home and when you are out. There is a great website called There you can enter your zip code and see a list of restaurants in your area that participate with this organization. From there click on desired restaurant and you will see a list of dishes that are deemed to be “Healthy Dining” as determined by a registered dietitian. You can select the various items and get thorough nutrition information. For example, if you see that there are 13 Healthy Dining items at a local breakfast eatery you can select the various options and find one that is lowest in calories or lowest in sugar, depending on what your nutrition goals are. You can use this application to educate your kids on what the nutrient analysis is on the various foods that they are eating. This may help them understand portion sizes, healthy and not-so-healthy fats, and foods that they should aim to consume sparingly.

I think that healthy dialogue about food and nutrition is a great way to get your kids to make good choices when they go out to eat. I am not implying that they should never eat foods considered “bad” for them, but maybe if they are now consistently choosing greasy burgers and fries they may begin to experiment with foods considered healthier and then find that these foods can taste just as good as the not-so-good foods they were choosing before!

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