This article appeared for Paleo on the Go
SHOULD WE ALLOW KIDS TO EAT FROM THE TYPICAL KID’S MENU?
Real kids shouldn’t eat from a kid’s menu; it’s not real food. The kid’s menu in almost every restaurant contains food for kids who seem to need foods that are easy to maneuver with tiny hands or what the American standard has agreed on as what they like. However, kids are real people and they deserve real food. Especially real food pertinent to what their little bodies need to develop and grow. In fact, they should be eating the ones opting for the DHA-rich salmon and pesto us parents so often order.
WHAT TYPE OF DIET SHOULD KIDS CONSUME?
A kid’s digestive system is definitely not that of an adult. They should be getting variety in their diet. Each meal should include a macronutrient (from a good source that’s minimally processed), healthy fats (rather than just some weird breaded fried imitation fishy or chicken looking meal) and veggies instead of the quickest soggiest pasta and cheese thing a restaurant can whip up. Let’s not indoctrinate our kids into adulterated food but keep them enjoying whole foods and relying on nature’s basics to supply a nourishing diet, even when we dine out.
TAKING A DEEPER LOOK AT THE “KIDS MENU”
Standard kids menus usually include meals like grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta dishes, breaded chicken (from grain-fed animals), processed hot dogs (again, from grain-fed animals), and French fries cooked in vegetable oil. Aside from nothing nourishing nor none of the balance we talked about previously, these foods are rich in omega-6 fatty acids and poor in omega-3 fatty acids. Not to mention, the immune and cognitive ability of your child depends on this balance. Within this balance, there are several types of omega-3 fatty acids, perhaps the most important is DHA. It has a crucial role in the proper growth of the central nervous system, is vital in development of the eyes, promotes cardiovascular health and affects mood and aggression. It’s necessary for all age groups, and is especially vital in developing children (like those who can feed themselves at restaurants). DHA is found in our diet: oily fish (e.g., herring, mackerel, salmon) and their roe; animals that are fed biologically appropriate foods (e.g., wild animals, cows that are fed grass, chickens that roam over pastures and eat green plants and insects) contain DHA. Algae are also a source, though they are not as rich in this essential fatty acid as animal foods. Wild animals and properly raised, domesticated animals are the best sources of DHA.
THE TRUTH ABOUT BAD EATING HABITS
Limiting kids’ food choices with a limited menu is harboring picky eating. If we don’t prejudge what our kids are eating when we give them the opportunity to eat junk, more often than not they’ll go for it. Small children pick up very quickly on the signals we give them. Tell them they won’t like something, and they won’t like it.
When you sit down to a meal at a restaurant let them pick off you or your partners plates. They’ll get to try new things and explore what they like and don’t like. So, the next time you go to a restaurant and sit down to a seafood dinner or grass-fed steak while your child gets something from the kids’ menu, realize that that meal is stunting the growth and development of their brain. Remember, your child should be eating the wild-caught salmon you’re ordering too. They are still developing and they need the DHA in their diet to form a healthy central nervous system. Without realizing, we are feeding our children large amounts of omega-6-rich foods. In turn, we’re setting them up for poor performance at an early age.