Children’s meals with a side of healthy

Children’s meals with a side of healthy
By Samara Foisy, Heart and Stroke Foundation registered dietitian

November 5, 2012

Children’s restaurant meals with a side of healthy

The most recent data from Statistics Canada reveal that one in three Canadian children is overweight or obese. This is an increase from past years. Needless to say, nutrition – whether at home or out – plays a major role in this.

The good news is that making Children’s meals healthier doesn’t mean the taste or fun factor will be sacrificed at your restaurant and foodservice operation. So, why not help out those Canadians who tell us that they would be more likely to dine at a restaurant if it had healthy food options for children?

Here are some tips on how you can make your kids’ meals healthier, while keeping them tasty.

  • Think beyond the traditional kids’ menus and develop a variety of interesting and healthy choices.
  • Offer fruit or veggies as a side instead of fries. Cut them into the same shape and use the same container for a fun presentation.
  • Use whole-grain pasta and breads instead of white.
  • Provide a healthy selection of sides and desserts, such as salads or fruit cups
  • Offer lower-fat dairy or 100 per cent fruit juice as the default beverage with children’s meals.
  • Use lower-fat dairy in meals.
  • Use cinnamon instead of sugar.
  • Use spices and herbs instead of salt.
  • Reduce the sodium you use up to 25 per cent. Your customers won’t even notice the difference.
  • Use lean or extra-lean meats.
  • Broil, bake, poach, braise, stew or steam instead of frying or deep-frying.
  • Make sure your healthy meals are visible to parents and children on the menu.
Take a look at what some of the restaurants around Canada have done to please the little diners’ taste buds, while earning a nod of approval from nutrition-conscious parents. Click here to view restaurants that have children’s menu items in the Health Check program. Visit for more information.

About the author

Samara Foisy is a registered dietitian with Heart and Stroke Foundation. She holds a Master of Health Science in Community Nutrition from the University of Toronto. Samara works for Health Check, which is a nutrition information program of the Foundation. As the program manager for the Ontario Restaurant Program, Samara works with a variety of stakeholders in the province who are committed to improving the health of Ontarians. Samara also writes blogs for

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