Meals from the kids’ menus at most restaurants leave much to be desired in terms of nutrition and variety. Restaurants seem to think kids only eat mac and cheese, burgers, and chicken tenders. At many places, it’s hard to find any variety of options – or even a fruit or vegetable on the menu.
This lack of a healthy variety on the menu can be discouraging for any parent, but it’s especially difficult for those with children who have diet restrictions such as those necessitated by sucrose intolerance. You may even consider not going out to eat because you’re concerned about what your kid will be able to eat once you arrive.
Children with sucrose intolerance may also stress out because they don’t know how the meal will affect their digestion. Having to ask for special orders or worrying about what will actually be served can be incredibly stressful. We are here to assure you that with a little bit of planning and research ahead of time, you and your child can still enjoy a restaurant meal from time to time.
Research Your Options
Many restaurants publish their menus online, making it easy to see what’s on their menus. Researching multiple restaurants first helps you make sure there is something your child can eat before you arrive. Try to go to restaurants that allow substitutions since some do not. Be sure you know what your options are ahead of time, and call the restaurant if you are not sure of their policy. You can also check online reviews and posts from other parents in related Facebook groups or bulletin boards.
Consider the Type of Restaurant
Eating at a chain restaurant may be easier than going to a locally owned restaurant. Chain restaurants use more standardized ingredients, which can help cut down on unknowns. But even local restaurants can make accommodations or answer questions about ingredients if needed. If the wait staff doesn’t know an answer, don’t be afraid to ask to speak to the chef. Try to arrive at a time when they are not incredibly busy, so they can do their best to accommodate any special requests.
Keep It Simple: Order from the Adult Menu
Many kids’ menu items may be out of the question due to the lack of variety and options. Consider ordering off the adult menu instead and ask for a smaller portion or splitting the adult entrée. If the restaurant allows these options, order just the protein from an entree and request a side dish of a low-sucrose vegetable or fruit to round out the meal. When in doubt, keep it simple. Plain grilled meat with a side of lettuce, tomatoes, and red pepper slices, and a dish of strawberries for dessert is something most mainstream American establishments can handle.
“Most restaurants are used to accommodating dietary needs especially in children, but if you encounter a less than helpful waiter, you should request to talk to the manager. If all fails, do not be afraid to leave the restaurant. That would be better than having your child spend the rest of the day with crampy pain, flatulence, and diarrhea,” advises gastroenterologist Dr. Enrique Hernandez Sanchez.
Eating out can be an enjoyable experience with a little planning, even for kids with sucrose intolerance. The key is to be prepared, do a little research, and think of creative ways to order a low-sucrose meal.