Kids LiveWell Program Offers Healthy Dining Out Options for Kids – It’s difficult to find healthy choices for your kids when eating out at local restaurants
Some restaurants make it difficult to substitute in healthier options and kids menus are often limited to just chicken fingers and cheeseburgers.
Registered Dietitian and Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition, Dr. Joy Dubost is involved with the Kids LiveWell initiative. Kids LiveWell makes dining out with the kids much easier to navigate when it comes to helping kids make healthier menu choices at the restaurant. I had a chance to interview Dr. Dubost to learn more.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – What is the Kids LiveWell program?
Dr. Joy Dubost – Kids LiveWell is a voluntary program for restaurants to provide healthier options for children when you’re dining out. These options are wonderful nutritious options. They’re delicious. Most of them are kid-approved. The restaurants have worked with kids as well. And, so when you step into the restaurant that’s participating, you can feel confident that the healthier choice really is the easier choice because it meets defined nutrition criteria.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – When thinking about nutrition requirements, what should kids be eating?
Dr. Joy Dubost – Well kids are active so it really depends on how active they are and their caloric needs. But, in the case of Kids LiveWell, there’s defined nutrition criterias… so there is a limit on calories, so it makes it more portion-sized appropriate for a child. They also have limits on sodium, unhealthy fats, sugar… but as far as the composition of the diet to ensure those essential nutrients that all kids need, it provides the food groups which is the fruits and vegetables we all don’t get enough of, the lean protein, as well as whole grains and low fat dairy.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – I agree on these nutritional needs, and it’s difficult to hit upon all those when dining out. So, when you’re trying to eat healthy, what are some tips when dining out? What are the best menu choices?
Dr. Joy Dubost – Well, of course, Kids LiveWell makes that easy because it identifies those options so it takes the guess work out of trying to figure out what would be healthy because you know those meals meet the criteria. But, other things I could offer up would be to go with a plan… visit the restaurant’s website, check out the nutrition information… For Kids LiveWell, you can go to HealthyDiningFinder.com. It has wonderful information on there, the full nutrition profiles. Have a plan before you go. And, then once you get in there, eat healthy as a family together. When kids see the parents or the caretakers eating healthy, it makes it a little more easy, so really make that a family affair. And, then of course, be mindful of your portion sizes. There’s always to go boxes that you can take home. Be mindful of the beverages you’re choosing because those can quickly add up with calories. And, then look for fruits and vegetables… those being the main component or whole grains being the main component of the dish. And, then of course for other dishes, look for the word “baked,” “grilled,” “broiled,” those tend to be less calories and provide less fat.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – I am happy to hear this trend because I am tiring of the large restaurant portions. It seems that restaurants are afraid to offer small portions in fear of losing out to the competition. I’m glad to hear that some are on board with this effort. Can you tell us where we’d find the list of participating restaurants?
Dr. Joy Dubost – Yes, there are a couple ways – the website Restaurant.org, or HealthyDiningFinder.com. And, that will give you a list of all the participating restaurants and you can actually type in your zip code and it will come up where those restaurants are in your area. The other thing is to download the Kids LiveWell app, and then you can find those restaurants that are participating when you’re on the go.
Lisa LaGrou of Oakland County Moms – That’s great. So, when you’re actually at the restaurant, will it state it on the menu where the Kids LiveWell options are?
Dr. Joy Dubost – Yeah, many of the restaurants do have icons listed there to identify what those options would be so again it takes the guess work out.
ABOUT DR. JOY DUBOST
With more than 15 years of experience, Dr. Dubost has worked in the areas of clinical nutrition, research, public health intervention, education and communications. She owns Dubost Food & Nutrition Solutions, LLC. which specializes in scientific advising, education, and communications. She also serves as Senior Director of Nutrition at the National Restaurant Association where she was responsible for the development and implementation of the award winning, nationally recognized healthy children’s dining program called Kids LiveWell. Through this she has worked on the Let’s Move! initiative to assist both the public and private sectors in addressing obesity. Prior to joining the Association, she was employed at PepsiCo as a Principal Scientist. Dr. Dubost is a frequent speaker to health professionals and the public. She has authored research articles for scientific journals, and writes nutrition and food science articles for professional and consumer publications. Dr. Dubost is a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is frequently quoted in local and national publications, including USA Today, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and NY Times and has made several radio and television appearances with NPR, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, and FOX News. She earned an undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Chemistry from Hood College, a master’s degree in Food Science from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in Food Science from Pennsylvania State University. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Michigan Hospitals and is board certified in sports nutrition.
For more info on the Kids Live Well program, visit their website.