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Sodas and fruit juices
When you see a cobalt-blue or neon-green carbonated beverage on a kids’ menu, one glance is all it takes to know that it’s far from nutritious. Any type of soda is packed with sugar and devoid of nutrients. More surprisingly, though, fruit juices are really not a healthier alternative, especially ones targeted at children.
“Skip juice as a beverage,” suggests Amanda Baker Lemein, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian in Chicago. “The simple sugar in juice adds up quickly, with few nutrients in store.” Instead, stick to milk or water. Even—surprise!—chocolate milk is a decent option, since you’re “still incorporating protein and calcium,” says Lemein.
Taste of Home
“Chicken is a healthy food, but not when it’s been breaded and deep-fried,” says Kelly Krikhely, MS, CDN, a New York City-based registered dietitian. Chicken fingers are one of the most popular kids’-menu staples, but most restaurants’ versions are loaded with calories and sodium.
As an alternative, order grilled chicken—the different method of cooking makes a massive difference in nutritional value. If your children are a little older and/or less picky, you could also try ordering a chicken dish from the regular menu and sharing it with them to help expand their tastes.