The other day I was browsing Yelp and came upon a review of a restaurant in which the reviewer commented that there was no kids menu at the restaurant. And that got me thinking – why do we even need kids menus? In fact the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I don’t actually agree with kids menus at restaurants at all!
As a Registered Dietitian, I recommend fostering healthy eating by not making separate meals for your children, as this won’t teach children to eat a variety of foods. I think this idea should apply whether you’re in the home or out at a restaurant. It makes me roll my eyes to see a restaurant with a diverse menu of foods offer such a limited “kid-friendly” menu to kids – usually consisting of burgers, chicken fingers, and grilled cheese. By restricting kids to such basic options, we’re not even giving them the chance to try new foods and flavours that perhaps they’ve never had the chance to try at home.
Not to mention, the options on kids menus are usually less healthy than some of the other items on the regular menu. Healthy is definitely a relative term when we’re talking about restaurants because all dishes tend to be less nutritious than what we would cook at home, but at least on the regular menu you’ll find vegetables, fish, and whole grains if you’re lucky. Whereas the kids menu, although smaller in portion size, tends to be lacking in vegetables, and high in refined carbohydrates and deep fried dishes. Why are we restricting kids to a limited menu of less healthy options?
I say ditch the kids menu and let children order off the regular menu. It will likely be too much food for their small appetites, but that’s what doggy bags are for. Parents could even split one of their dishes with their kid, as restaurant portions are usually large enough to serve two people anyways!
Let’s stop giving children “kid’s food” and just offer them “food”.
What do you think? Do you agree with restaurants having kids menus?