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Niche Topics (Pregnancy and Kids) is all about practical parenting advice and parenting skills to help you deal with common parenting challenges from toddlerhood to teen years. You’ll find tons of healthy food ideas and easy-to-make kids meals, fun activity ideas and creative crafts projects that kids love to do and play!

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By Martha Sanders


Taking your kids out for meals at fast food restaurants can sometimes be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you want to make your children happy and allow them to eat whatever they fancy but on the other, you're concerned with the food choices offered on the kids menu.


I am not exaggerating here, most of the kids meals at fast food restaurants are high in fat, sodium/MSG and calories – your kids may be ingesting close to 1000 calories in one sitting.


Do you know Chili's country-fried chicken crispers, cinnamon apples and chocolate milk has an eye-popping 1020 calories in total, and that's almost 70 percent of the recommended daily amount of calories for the average kid aged 4 to 8 years?


To ensure your children stay healthy and happy, you need to do your homework beforehand, and at the fast food restaurant, be firm without screaming.


Not knowing what to pick on the kids menu can be disastrous as it puts your kid at risk for childhood obesity and many chronic diseases later on in life.


In response to pressure from consumer and health advocates, many fast food restaurants today have lighter and healthy choices on kids menu. Some healthy fast food kids meals that meet CSPI's nutritional criteria are:


Subway's ham mini sub with juice box and apple slices or raisins; roast beef mini sub and juice box with any side, including apple slices or raisins or yogurt; turkey mini sub and juice box with apples slices or raisins or yogurt


Chili's grilled chicken sandwich with apple juice and corn kernels (or mandarin oranges or pineapple)


Denny's pancakes without meat, with maple syrup; macaroni and cheese, and grapes


Arby's popcorn chicken or junior roast beef sandwich with fruit cup and fruit juice


And, on the list of CSPI's "Hall of Shame" are:

Chili's country-fried chicken crispers, cinnamon apples, and chocolate milk – 1020 calories


Chili's cheese pizza, home-style fries, and lemonade –  1000 calories


KFC's popcorn chicken, baked beans, biscuit, fruit punch, and Teddy Grahams –  940 calories


Burger King's double cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate milk – 910 calories


Sonic's grilled cheese, fries, and slushie – 830 calories


If a healthy fast food kids meal is not available on the menu, you can always improvise. Ask if you can substitute standard milk with skim or low-fat and choose pure fruit juice or water in place of sugar-laden soda.

Request for baked potato in place of french fries; go for thin cheese crust without extra toppings; see if you can have the chicken grilled instead of fried or encourage your kid to pick yogurt over ice cream sundae and reject the offer to upsize your order.


With some knowledge and a little planning ahead, it is possible for your children to have a pleasurable family time at fast food restaurants the guiltless way.


Healthy Fast Food Choices for Kids



healthy fast food choices for kids

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