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kids meals

21 replies

batey · 27/07/2004 06:47


Did they really need a survey!

OP posts:
dottee · 27/07/2004 08:56

I've juest been watching a paed. nutrionist on BBC Morning news and wondering whether I should invite her to our house and leave her to try and encourage my ds to eat healthier whilst I go out!

I would add that he's skinny and fantastic at sports. He's in the first football team at school and is above average in his class. And his favourite food is chicken nuggets!

Why didn't they spend the money (cost of the research) on new play or sports facilities? Or is that too obvious?!

dottee · 27/07/2004 09:01

And let's be honest, do you choose the healthy option when you go out for a meal? You know the one without the couple of glasses of wine and the 'oh go on then' dessert?

Hulababy · 27/07/2004 09:14

I agree Dottee. Besides isn't a meal out supposed to be a treat, and generally isn't a daily thing.

The 3 places they quote are hardly wear you would head for a healthy meal anyway!

Mind you I do get cross with children's meals as some places are so inflexible, and at the moment DD really isn't into chips much, and she isn't keen on battered/coated things like nuggets. And if you ask for an alternative like potatoes you are often stared at as though you are mad!

We eat out quite alot with DD - at least once or twice a week, if not more often. But we tend to go to Italians, Mexican, coffee bars, sandwich shops, 'English' cafes/restaurants, 'non-children' pubs, etc. rather than 'childrens' pubs. DD then gets a choice more suited to her:

  • bowls of buttered pasa with grated parmesan
  • chicken and pesto paninis
  • chicken fajitas (minues the chillis!)
  • cavery with the trimmings and yorshire pudding
  • sausage and mash (her favourite!)

    But I agree - does it really need a survey/research to figure this out - spend the money on something more worthwhile!!!

    Oh, and does every meal your child and you have provide:

  • at least 30% of a child's recommended daily intake of protein, fibre and vitamin A, at least 35% of calcium and vitamin C, and at least 40% of iron.

    Mmm, mine don't!!!
iota · 27/07/2004 09:38

strange - when we took the kids to the harvester a couple of weeks ago, the kids meal included as many trips to the salad cart as they wanted - plenty of fresh veg there, although the cucumber was all that found favour with my fussy two!

still no need to let facts get in the way of a good story

MeanBean · 27/07/2004 09:46

I know the research is stating the bleedin' obvious, but sometimes you need research to make politicians/ businesses etc. sit up and take some notice. If someone just went on the TV and said "kid's meals are shit", nobody would take any notice. But if somebody has produced a report about it with breakdowns of percentages of fat, carb, protein, etc., then it becomes news, and at least makes its way onto the agenda. A bit like the new craze for obesity reporting - we've all known it for years, but what sparked off the current round of reports, was some serious research on stuff we all knew anyway. And I thik it's a good thing that it's been pushed nearer the top of the news and policy agenda.

SofiaAmes · 27/07/2004 10:06

These places are offereing terrible kids meals because that's what the majority of parents feed their kids. If there was enough of a demand for more interesting meals, then these businesses (who surely want to make a profit) would offer something else.

That said, my kids eat everything (ok...ds doesn't like beer and Vindaloo and dd isn't wild about raw oysters). When we go out I feed them from my meal, or if it's not a great restaurant I let them have a plate of chips since it's hard to mess up chips. At home they have a well balanced diet that involves all the food groups. I think a lot of the problem is that parents either are fussy themselves or don't offer a variety of foods to their children from an early age because they assume that they won't like them.

I asked my mother once what she had done so that me and my brother were such good eaters. Her response was "nothing." And now that I have kids, I understand. We all eat together as a family and our children have always eaten what we eat (mushed up when they had no teeth). They have never known that the concept of not liking something because it's not behavior that is ever exhibited in front of them. I'm sure that things will change a little when they are at school, but hopefully by then they will realize how good everything is and not succumb to peer pressure that they aren't supposed to like certain types of food.

hatmum · 27/07/2004 11:00

Bad childrens menus are a pet hate of mine and we struggle sometimes to find places where they can eat normal food - pasta with fresh sauces, meals with vegetables etc. Agree that eating out is a treat but I wouldn't think so if all I could have were adult portions of the children's menu!

dottee · 27/07/2004 11:57

I disagree with some points Sofia. I'm an ex Wetherspoons employee. To stay competitive with each other, the pub chains are offering the food that is on their menus because it's what Joe Public wants, at a price Joe Public wants. These menus are market researched and if certain dishes aren't selling well, they're taken off the menu and replaced.

Costs and profit margins are important - whatever they are selling (be it healthy or not), they are in business to make money. Remember the wonderful Wetherspoons twisty fries? Well they were taken off the menu because there was too much waste in the deep fat fryer after they had been cooked. Many a student (a lot of students lived on these) mourned their passing.

Wetherspoons do offer a non-chip alternative in their childrens' menu - spag bol. And they offer milk as an alternative to cola or fruit shoots. But they market this menu at only £1.99 so it doesn't leave them with much of a margin to offer alternatives. When I worked there a portion of chips cost the company 11p whereas a jacket cost 26p, hence, it wasn't an option on the children's menu.

Also, the food is bought in (from Puritan Maid in the 'Spoonies where I worked at) so hardly anything is prepared (i.e. made) at the pub itself. It's just merely put on the griddle, in the Mealstream (a super douper microwave), in the pan of hot water or in the deep fat fryer! I think this applies to most pub chains including those marketed as 'family friendly'. (Even the salad is bought in bags these days).

I agree that it would be nice for these pub chains to offer 'healthier' alternatives to children, but would people be prepared to pay more, and would the dishes sell to the masses? Healthier (adult menu) options are available from the menu but they are more expensive than the £1.99 package.

Some independant pubs pride themselves on doing home made stuff, but they struggle to compete price wise with the big guys.

I agree with Hula. I like trying alternatives to 'Family pubs' with my two. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. BTW I don't think the Spoonie menu has ever seen a boiled potato (but they do jackets).

We are definately not fussy eaters in our family. Both dd and ds were given everything to try when they were younger. Dd will eat almost everything (except peas and sweetcorn). She'll eat every other sort of vegetable and loves broccoli and cauli. She loves a bowl of cut up fruit and is very easy to please food wise. She is, however, overweight (she is SN and doesn't play out etc.) As for my ds, he hates sauces of any description (so Spoonie's spag bol is out!) but will eat dry pasta sprinkled with cheese (he loves that). The only vegs he will eat are raw cucumber and celery. And believe me, I did tried and tried to keep his food preferences wide open when he was younger. He's just grown up (aged 10) and developed his own preferences. Some kids tend to do that as they grow up - whether you like it or not!

Moomin · 27/07/2004 17:46

I think Sofia's point was a good one. It's one of the main arguments put forward by that book "The Food Our children Eat" (joanna Bythe?sp): That we (the UK) are following the trends set in the US, that kids have 'their own sort of food' (unlike much of the rest of the world, who give their kids the same as they would eat). And the result of kids having their 'own food' is that it's the arse-end minced-up meat that is one up from cat food rolled in breadcrumbs or somesuch and fried in fat.
But then again, when so many adult diets are crap, it's no wonder kids eat the same and then don't want to try anything new.
Can't pubs just do mini versions of their adult meals? I can understand that this is hard when meals are already plated, chilled and shipped out to chain pubs, but where food is made on the premises, surely this is an option?

tallulah · 27/07/2004 18:10

This used to really bug me when mine were tiny. The children's meal is invariably either burger or sausage or chicken nuggets with chips. With 4 of them we couldn't afford to give them adult meals (even 1 between 2). Some of the chains over the years have offered decent alternatives, but it can be very difficult to find anything decent.

yingers74 · 27/07/2004 20:21

sofia, the points you make are very interesting. At the moment my little dd has gone off vegetables and fruit - apart from dried fruits, sweetcorn and peas. I am not really sure what to do but I believe it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I and my hubby hardly eat any fruit, we do eat plenty of vegetables but not often in front of her. We are now trying to amend this by eating as much as poss the same meal with her. However any ideas would be grateful.
In regards I am always quite disappointed with the choice of foods on offer for children but the bigger prob is the fact so few places have facilities for kiddies. I live in Acton and on the whole on the rare occasion we go to lunch with dd there, we have to go to the weatherspoon pub as there is nothing else.

SofiaAmes · 27/07/2004 23:43

yingers74, well I live in acton too, and agree that there is a real shortage of good places to go. There is a reasonable Thai on the Uxbridge road just west of the Red Back. They don't have a high chair but are very nice to children. There is a new Indian which is very very good... all fresh ingredients, up on Queens Rd (?) just opposite North Ealing Tube station. They don't have a high chair, but are child friendly. We bring our own portable high chair.

In terms of feeding vegetables to kids, it probably helps how you cook them. I cook mine "al dente" and dress them with olive oil, salt, garlic and either lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. These latter two seem to add a flavor that kids love. Also, don't forget kids like to enjoy eating their foods. Fun to eat foods are things like corn on the cob (frozen is much better than fresh) and soy beans (you can get these in the freezer section at the japanese store on the mini roundabout next to West Acton tube station). My children also love olives with pits (I get the garlic and lemon marinated ones in big tubs at costco). I think they like the chewing the olive off the pit. Cherry tomatoes are good because they squirt everywhere when you bite into them (we're talking from the children's point of view here).

For fruit, go to Little India in Wembley and buy boxes of Pakistani mangoes (the little really sweet ones). They are cheap and good and the kids love them. Or get a large watermelon (with seeds...they taste better).

Why don't we get together sometime and feed our children together.

BadHair · 28/07/2004 00:04

I agree that family pubs tend to offer rubbish kids menus, but despite me and dp eating fairly healthily, both in front of and away from the children, ds1 has developed the standard junk food preferences on his own. I don't believe bad eating does always come down to following the parents' diet habits.
He was always a fussy eater (and a late weaner), but my mum gave him fish fingers when he was 12 months old and he wolfed them down. It was the first time I'd ever seen him eat anything savoury. In the end I started giving him fish fingers once a week in desperation as otherwise he would eat only stewed apple and weetabix at every, and I mean every, meal.
Ds2 eats "normal" food no problem and won't touch junk food with a barge pole.
By the way, is the Greek restaurant called The Lantern still on Uxbridge Rd in Acton? Ds1 used to love it in there, though he was still milk-only in those days so can't say what was on offer for children. They were OK about breastfeeding though.

Jimjams · 28/07/2004 08:38

Blimey if ds1 ate half the stuff on that report I would be overjoyed. He eats gluten free bread, ready salted crisps pamcakes, jam, pizza (but only with cheese ), scrambeld eggs um and that's it. No vegetable or meat or fish has passed his lips for over 3 years. He ate apples until about 6 months ago then stopped overnight. He does have a watered down freshly squeezed orange daily.

he was weaned correctly- my Annabel Karmel book has all its little ticks next to pages of organic muck i used to bash up. Used to eat everything in sight. Imagined I would have a very healthy eating child.

I no longer worry about it tbh. The only time I get annoyed is when he won't eat breakfast (jam on toast) and I have to send him to shcool, knowing that I can't send him in with a decent sized snack for break time as the only thing he'll eat that he's allowed (becuase of this poxy healthy eating initiative) is raisins (although he won't eat them at home now! why???). In that case I usually whisper in his LSA's ear and she sneaks him off for crisps.

Surely the main point of these businesses is that they want to make a profit so they provide what families want. Sometimes I have a Burger King - sometime I crave crap food - other times I crave healthy stuff. All a bit of a storm in a tea cup if you ask me.

misdee · 28/07/2004 08:47

DD2 will eat spiced food, rather than burger and chips. i cant get her to eat plain-ish food, but put a plate of curry in front of her and she will gobble it up. She loves spicey sauces, mango chutney, even pinched dh spicey pringles the other day.

Me atm, cant touch rice without being violently sick, have gone off most meats, and am living on jacket potatoes and salads. If i think about certain foods which i usually love (chicken in bbq sauce with bacon and cheese, sounds weird but is gorgeous), then i will be sick. even sitting here typing is making me heave.

yingers74 · 28/07/2004 10:45

sofia, would love to meet up as it would certainly be interesting to see whether dd responds to your children's good eating habits. I know the Thai, but have not been there for ages as I live in denehurst gardens, the little road just off uxbridge road. Are you coming to the meet up today in the bunny park? See ealing/acton thread. I am about to make a tuna bake for our lunch so fingers crossed she will take it!
badhair - there is def a greek place on the uxbridge road, ealing common part, but can't remember the name! will check it out!

Clarinet60 · 29/07/2004 10:10

Mine are the same as Jimjams and Badhair and others. Started out eating everything I gave them from a very wide variety, and I was ever so smug. But now DS1 will only eat sausages. So he's gone from the realms of mild curries, chillies etc, every veg under the sun - to sausages, apples and cucumber.

I don't give in - I bribe Ds1 to eat my home cooked food and let him have sausages every third day, but it costs lots in tears and arguments.
DS2 is just on the turn. ATM he will still eat home-made soup, spag bol, etc, but is starting to narrow down. These bad food habits are not always caused by parents.

I read somewhere that one theory is that it's instinctive to avoid poisonous plants and meat that could have been dangerous thousands of years ago when foraging for food. So once a toddler is old enough to choose, primitive fears and fads will kick in. Just a theory (from New Scientist, I think).

MeanBean · 29/07/2004 10:36

I've also read that their taste-buds are growing and developing at different rates, so that when one week they say the carrots taste different, they aren't just being faddy, the carrots really do taste different, because they've got differnt proportions of each taste bud type. Don't know if that's true or not...

yingers74 · 29/07/2004 13:34

Droile, my dd is the same, she loves sausages! if I take her out somewhere, i normally take some sausages in case she refuses to eat anything else! Interesting theory and makes me feel better too!

Jimjams · 29/07/2004 14:11

DS2 is another sausage fiend.

In DS1's case I think the problem is texture. He doesn't seem to care what food tastes like- which has made it easy to shove things like fish oil into him (on toast under jam!). I can also add things to his bread such as flaxseeds, or hemp seeds and providing it doesn't look too different he will eat it.

He will only eat dry crunchy foods though. Pizza's have to be well done and he nibbles the edge. Eating difficulties are very common in autism and once I'd read "can't eat won't eat" I stopped worrying about his limited diet. There are children in that book who will only eat for example white chocolate buttons- nothing else at all. Another boy who will only eat 4 to 6 fromage frais pots per meal. if distracted he will eat a small amount of Ready brek- won't bite or chew foods- will only eat them whole,

I do try to increase his range of textures as powders are hard to hide in his food. DS1 responds greatly to diet (often in a negative way) and the more he eats the more chance I have to alter his food and supplement intake iyswim. Another problem is that I have never come across and expert with the ability or knowledge to help up improve his eating habits. They do exist- in GOSH- but obviously access to them is difficult.

Hulababy · 29/07/2004 14:16

Can I add my DD to the sausage lovers club? Given a chance, and despite liking loads of other types of food, she would always choose sausages - any shape, size or form - over anything else. No idea why. I don't eat meat and DH thinks they are okay - but no, they are her favourite by far.

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