Fast Food Restaurants Don't Need to Make Kids' Meals Healthier

fast foodDid you hear about the new McDonald's Happy Meal? Thanks to parents pushing, it's a whole lot healthier than the old version. Actually, on second thought, better make that "thanks to lazy parents pushing ... "

What? How dare I attack all those good-hearted, well-meaning folks who are battling to fix the fast food industry? I should be bound to a couch and forced to watch a Little Bill marathon while being force-fed ketchup packets with such traitorous talk.

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But you better bring on your best torture, because I'm standing firm. It's not a restaurant's job to make your kid healthy. It's yours.

Add it to the list of the sucky jobs of being a parent. Kids love to eat crap. Heck, we love to eat crap. It's in our DNA. As much as I love eating all (OK, most) things green, there are some hungers that won't be satisfied without a bowl full of air-puffed corn coated in powdery cheese "product." Hence the reason kids go to bed early, allowing Mom and Dad some child-free hours to indulge their inner taste for junk without prying eyes! 

But it's the daytime that tests your skills as a parent. When our kids come to us at 9 a.m. and ask for ice cream, we have to look them straight in the eye and tell them to go find a yogurt if they want dairy so bad. There's no restaurant owner standing there to pass the job off to.

So why do we expect the restaurateurs to do our job when we're out of the house? Eating out is as much about making choices as eating in. We decide whether we want all-American fare or Thai. We decide whether we want to eat in or take out. We decide whether kids have eaten enough healthy stuff this week to deserve a treat of junk.

We. Us. Mom and Dad.

The parents who are pushing on the fast food restaurants to change their kids' menus are feeling mighty powerful when they cave, but they're missing the point entirely. Parents already HAVE the power to raise healthy kids. It's up to us to harness it.

Do you think the restaurants have a responsibility to fix their menus for us?


Image via ebruli/Flickr

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