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Getting your kids to eat healthy when dining out can be a struggle. When hungry, their natural tendency is to want hit the first fast food restaurant they see. However, you can help them both learn how to make healthy choices in food and still enjoy eating it.

First if you have the time, choose a sit-down venue instead of fast food. Usually eateries serving Asian cuisine, seafood or offering a salad bar are better healthy options over fast food. If you have to stop for fast food, look for options on the menu that are grilled instead of fried. Chicken is usually a better option than beef as it is generally lower in saturated fat.

Other healthy options are ordering a side salad with grilled chicken (with a low-fat dressing on the side), Forgo topping it with bacon, cheese and a high-fat dressing. Or try smaller portion of fries instead of super-sizing it. Avoid ordering batter-dipped, breaded or creamy items, as they will be higher in unhealthy fats and sodium.

Grilled chicken strips are a healthier choice than chicken nuggets or a hamburger. Many fast food places now offer healthier choices on their kids’ menu that include fruit slices, yogurt and a variety of fat-free or low-fat milk in addition to the main entree. These meals are not only lower in saturated fat, but they offer higher nutritional value.

If you know where you will be eating, go to the restaurant’s website and review the menu with your child and assist them in making smart choices on what they will order. It’s an opportunity to teach how to make healthy choices in a non-rushed setting, and prevents the impulse ordering of unhealthy food. You are a role model to your kids. Set the example by ordering healthy also.

Because we eat out more frequently now than even our parents did, teaching your child how to make healthy decisions when dining out is a life-skill that will serve them well throughout their life. Don’t pass up this opportunity now only to wish you had done it later.