Do you struggle to find healthy meals for your kids when dining out at your favorite restaurant? It can definitely be difficult, especially when traveling over the summer. Thankfully to the Kids LiveWell initiative, parents can find healthy choices for their children via their computer or on their trusty smartphone just by visiting their app. The Kids LiveWell initiative is amazing, it’s a “voluntary program for restaurants to provide healthier options for children when they dine out.” 150 restaurants are in the program, and 42,000 locations!
Renowned registered dietitian and food scientist, Dr. Joy Dubost joined me for an interview this week to discuss the Kids LiveWell initiative that is encouraging both parents and children to eat healthier, especially when dining out at restaurants.
Candace Rose: What is the Kids LiveWell initiative?
Dr. Joy Dubost: “Kids LiveWell is a voluntary program for restaurants to provide healthier options for children when they dine out. When we first launched three years ago, we only had 19 brands of restaurants participating…now we have over 150, which represents over 42,000 restaurant locations. It’s really about providing those healthier options for kids when they dine out, making the healthier choice, the easier choice.”
Candace Rose: What is the nutrition criteria that meals must meet in order to be included?
Dr. Joy Dubost: “The nutrition criteria is based on recommendations on what should be in a child’s diet. The meals that are approved for Kids LiveWell must meet certain criteria that have been defined, again, to really limit the calories or portion sizes of those meals to make them kid size appropriate, but also limit unhealthy fats, sugar and sodium and then encourage essential nutrients through food groups like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean protein.”
Candace Rose: How can parents find participating restaurants?
Dr. Joy Dubost: “There are a couple ways you can find participating restaurants through Restaurant.org or you can also go to HealthyDiningFinder.com. Both of those websites will list the restaurants participating. HealthyDiningFinder.com will actually list the meals, as well as the nutrition profile of those meals, if you want to check it out before you go to the restaurant.
I would encourage you to download our app: Kids LiveWell app, so you can find those locations when you’re on the go.”
Candace Rose: What can parents do to make sure their kids are making healthful choices when they eat out?
Dr. Joy Dubost: “Well, Kids LiveWell is so great because it takes the guesswork out of it. When you step into a restaurant that’s participating in Kids LiveWell, you’ll know those meals are healthy for your child, as well as delicious. It really, again, makes that healthier choice, the easier choice. Encourage your children to try Kids LiveWell meals because they innovative and they meet that defined nutrition criteria. Also, make sure that you are setting the example for your child by choosing healthier options as well, so it’s really a family affair.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Dr. Joy Dubost: “I would just check back on Restaurants.org, we have information on Kids LiveWell, and we also have where I am blogging and we also have ‘Ask the nutritionist’ videos that provide nutrition tips for you and your family.”