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Parents Guide To Ordering Healthier Portion Sizes When Eating Out

Anne Kolker • MS, Registered Dietitian • Apr 27, 2011

Eating out is a family treat.   Children enjoy the change in routine and it can be a welcomed break from a very busy day.

It is harder to eat healthy portions when eating out because most restaurants serve very large portions.  In particular family restaurants are usually promoting their "special jumbo" meal at a cheaper price.  It can be tempting to resist the bargain.  But these meals tend to be higher in fat, calories and serving size.

Here are some tips to help you teach children how to eat healthy in restaurants and control their portions.


Eating Out Healthy Eating Tips


Follow these tips to cut down on fat, sodium, sugar, overall calories and make your meal healthier:

  • If you are ordering á la Carte items on the menu, find out if there is a child’s size available.healthy portion sizes eating out family
  • Another option is to order the regular size and split the order and share it with your child.
  • Avoid ordering extra large portions just because they are a deal! These deals usually have the words jumbo, giant, super sized or deluxe in the name.
  • Don’t be shy about making substitutions! Children love to order their meal from the children's menu.  Let children order their meal but ask to make substitutions for the fries and soda if possible. Many restaurants will offer milk or water as a beverage and apple slices instead of fries.
  • Talk to your child before ordering a meal and give them a choice of milk, juice or water (make sure it is low fat milk or 100% fruit juice.) Explain to them that soda is high in empty calories that will just fill up their tummies.
  • Let your child know that they can ask for items prepared a specific way. For example, salad dressing on the side, baked or grilled instead of fried, brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Order foods that are prepared by being steamed, broiled, grilled, poached, or roasted.
  • Have gravy, sauces and dressings served on the side so you can control the amount you eat. 
  • Use non-fat milk or low fat milk instead of whole milk or heavy cream.
  • Finally, set a good example by ordering a healthy meal for yourself.










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Written by Anne KolkerWritten on Apr 27, 2011Last updated on Apr 01, 2014




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