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Making the Best of Kids' Menus

Whether local diners or national chains, family restaurants often pack their children's menus with high-fat, high-calorie offerings. Some painless ways to keep the fun along with some nutritional balance, from Althea Zanecosky, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association:

  • Plan Ahead If you know that you're going out at night, feed the kids lower-fat foods earlier in the day.

  • Beware the chicken nuggets They're a dietitian's nightmare, precooked in partially hydrogenated oils, then deep-fried. Steer kids toward lower-fat alternatives like pasta or a chicken sandwich. If you have more than one child, consider having them split an order of nuggets and a more nutritious offering.

  • Replace the fries Many restaurants will let you substitute fruit salad, applesauce, or a baked potato for french fries. If your child balks at a switch, order one serving for the table.

  • Say no to soda Try milk, chocolate milk, or water instead.

  • Don't ban dessert Most of all, eating out should be fun. Keep the sugar and fat at reasonable levels by ordering from the kids' menu, with its smaller portions, or by opting for a single adult dessert and spoons for everybody.
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