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It’s no secret that restaurant, take-out and fast food is increasingly unhealthy these days, especially for growing kids. A recent study found that eating out at fast food restaurants or full-service restaurants just one time a day increased the number of calories eaten by both kids and teens when compared with meals at home. Restaurant meals, especially those purchased at fast food places, are also associated with a higher intake of sugar, fat, and sodium.

If you follow a few simple tips, however, you can help your kids eat healthy, balanced meals - even when eating out!

Restaurant portion sizes are likely to big for your child (and often for you, too!). Even those entrees on the kids’ menu come super-sized! Consider sharing your entree with your child or taking food home. You can even request a doggie bag at the start of the meal and package up the food before starting to eat.

 

       • Many restaurants, even fast food chains, are offering healthy options. Small choices can make any meal healthier:

Choose a veggie burger instead of a big hamburger loaded with sauces.

Opt for grilled chicken instead of breaded or fried chicken.

Drink water instead of soda or other sweetened beverages.

Pick a vegetable or baked potato side instead of french fries.

• Lots of different things influence our kids’ choices, not just what's on the menu. Make a difference by:

Support local policies that limit fast-food eateries near schools. Having a fast food restaurant near a high school, for example, has

been linked to increased obesity in the nearby students.

Limit your kids’ tv viewing. Kids who watch lots of ads for fast food have higher rates of fast food consumption and an increased rate of obesity.

help your kids eat healthy, balanced meals - even when eating out!

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