Monday, June 25, 2007

If I were an agitator

I would agitate for better options on kids menus. On the occasions when we take long road trips or go out to restaurants, I am gobsmacked by the options available for children.

Generally it is along the lines of "deep fried unidentified meat stuff with chips" - the only variety being the "meat stuff". Occasionally they throw in "hot dogs" or spaghetti (ah, but no-one makes spaghetti like your mother!)

As parents, we have forced down our throats the obese children debate and offering healthy options for our children.

As someone who has been on a committee for tuckshops and after school care facilities, we have to comply with healthy choices to even get accreditation for licensing.

Yet out there in the "real world" it seems that the easy, cheap deep-fried option is the only one available to give your children.

I have taught my child to eat vegetables - at some junctures it is a struggle but she is a healthy 7 year old who loves her fruit and nowadays almost willingly eats the healthy options in front of her.

She has developed a fairly healthy aversion to plastic cheese, batter and overly oily or fatty options - thanks in part to the genetics (my hand up there) but also because it was not offered to readily or too often.

Her desire for a lot of the offerings by the fast food giants is generally limited to the advertising of fancy extras but is unfussed by the food. There have been moments where that option has been exercised, but generally we bypass the opportunity for them to profit too freely from us.

There are moments (such as long distance drives) when ffgs or roadside servos are the only food options. Although the M option does now offer a lower fat choice, the packaged tomato taste and the overly sugared drink has been found wanting - my child wants taste and freshness.

One trip I had to stop at dinnertime at a servo, and the prices were up there with fine dining for adult fare - with half price offerings for the children's menu of the usual variety. Even when I begged for half the chips to be removed in return for some salad it was apparently impossible - I would have to pay the full adult fare for salad or vegetables to be included.

So if I were an agitator, this is one of the changes I would agitate for... What would your soapbox be?

(This post was partly inspired by Mom-101: My Daughter the Communist - a mother (or rather, daughter) who has trouble with the catering offered at playdates...)


shishyboo said...

yay! i whole heartedly agree with you here.
the deep fried stuff is ok for a *treat* once in a while (and I admit I am quite partial to the odd chip) but it is quite frustrating when there's nothing else on offer.

Tracey said...

I'm with you on this one too! When we go to restaurants we usually manage to get the kids to try something different - because the kids menu is all chips and crap, and no salad or veggies. But when travelling, there's usually no option at all. (And often no option for me either!)

Mom101 said...

Thanks for the shout-out.

I must say I'm a wee bit happy to hear that this isn't exclusively an American issue. At your expense I guess. Sorry.

Jen at Semantically driven said...

This is so true Jeanie. We're going out tonight and my son will have the kids fish and chips. At least they usually chuck on some cucumber and tomato. I don't go near chicken nuggets after I found out how they were made. We also never go to those fast food chains.

At a birthday party the other day there was a plate of fruit and JJ ate all the strawberries. I was appalled that he gutsed them all and didn't leave any for anyone else but I was glad he ate some fruit when it was right next to the chips.

Melody said...

Our local pub offers great kiddies meals with the choice of either chips OR salad as the side option. I think they even have some kind of dishes that offeer neither chips or salad as the side dish.

At least we don't go out that often for dinner...

Brissiemum2 said...

I am hearing you, although my 11 year old now picks out the veges and just wants the meat! Arghhhh! And Miss 7 is a carb and milk freak!

There is one good thing about this though....many tuckshops are now being told to introduce healthy food options in schools here. So much nicer to have choices like fruit and veges and lower-fat content variety than the old meat pie and sausage roll. Ours is even serving breakfast in the mornings....cereal, fruit or plain toast, fruit and yoghurt. Clever and practical...especially for kids with working parents who are dropped off early!