With busy work schedules and kids’ multiple after-school activities, it can be difficult to find time to prepare a nutritious dinner and have the family home to eat together around the dinner table. I find I’m always missing an ingredient or two and need to make another trip to the grocery store. And, my two kids are picky in their own way, which often results in me preparing two separate meals to please each of them. So, I’ve found that our family has migrated to eating out at least a few times each week. That way, there are no extra trips to the store, we can choose what we like (nutritious, of course) and best of all – nobody has to do the dishes (we have homework to do)!
March is National Nutrition Month, and I can think of no better time to celebrate eating and living well. Whether it’s a special occasion or simply a quick dinner post-soccer or gym practice, restaurants can provide a perfect venue for families to catch up on the day’s or week’s activities while enjoying a meal that’s delicious and nutritious!
HealthyDiningFinder.com makes it easy to find restaurant meals that have health, taste and convenience in mind. Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians works with restaurants all over the United States to help them offer a selection of dietitian-approved menu choices. With a few clicks of your mouse, you’ll find a whole list of restaurants in your area that offer these delicious and healthful options. Parents can also feel good about finding wholesome kids’ meals with Kids LiveWell selections that emphasize lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, as well as meeting specific nutrition criteria. It is exciting to see that a growing number of restaurants are offering items that nourish kids and help them grow, thrive and be at their best!
One of the biggest benefits of families dining together at a restaurant is that everyone can be engaged in conversation. Mom and Dad aren’t distracted in the kitchen preparing a meal and missing out on an interesting story of something that happened at school or about the winning goal of a child’s sporting event. Another benefit is introducing kids’ palates to new flavors or food items not normally eaten at home. It’s a great way to expand your children’s flavor profiles and add variety to their meals.
One of my 10-year old daughter’s favorite meals at a local restaurant is sirloin medallions served with broccoli and 100% apple juice. I don’t serve meat at home very often, so my daughter loves that she can order this, and it is mom- and Kids LiveWell-approved! And I appreciate that it is a lean meat, a good source of protein and served with a vegetable that she’ll eat.
Dining out together can be a great way to educate the entire family on smarter meal choices that can fit into the active lifestyles of both kids and adults. Before going out to eat, visit HealthyDiningFinder.com at home, or if you’re out and about, check out the mobile site and iPhone app that can help you search for nearby restaurants and review their more healthful selections in advance. This can help take away the guesswork of what to order once you arrive at the restaurant. And, with spring break just around the corner, you can still enjoy nutritious dining as part of your vacation itinerary with the help of these mobile resources to locate restaurants throughout your travels.
Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, is founder/president of Healthy Dining and HealthyDiningFinder.com, and her passion for nutrition emphasizes “the fusion of culinary excellence with optimal health.” Anita is always “at work,” even at home, trying to promote healthier eating to her teen and tween daughters.