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Kids’ menus need a healthy boost

Dr. KarNance MD head How To Be Healthy

Dr. Kara Nance, MD, head of How To Be Healthy

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Dr. Kara Nance’s practice, How to Be Healthy MD, specializes in weight loss. The Lake Zurich resident is also mom to four young children. She recently spoke about raising healthy kids in a fast food world.

Q. What do you think about kids’ menus?

A: They’re giving children what they want but they’re not giving a nutritionally aware parent what they want. Very rarely is there a fresh vegetable option and it’s almost always carrot sticks. It’s such little effort to offer broccoli or pepper sticks.

Q. What do your kids order when you go out to eat?

A: Because I am a working mother of four children I try not to let perfection be the enemy of the good. We don’t eat out a lot but when we do we try to choose places that have healthier options, like Subway. The kids get multigrain bread, turkey and cheese and we ask for the [bell] peppers on the side. They get a water instead of a sugar-sweetened beverage. When we go to McDonald’s we order burgers and we all like french fries, so we get two large fries and split them between the six of us.

Q. And your kids are happy sharing their fries?

A: They are miserable and they say they hate that I am a doctor. I say maybe in your next life you’ll get a mom who lets you eat junk food. I feel so passionate about teaching them healthy habits. If you get the parents understanding the mind set, it will trickle down. If we don’t train our children to understand, if we can’t be nutritionally literate, we are not going to get out of the obesity epidemic.

Q. If restaurants offered a broader, healthier selection, would kids eat those foods?

A: Some kids are food explorers. They want to eat anything interesting that is plopped down in front of them. Some kids are more finicky about trying. I have two kids who are food explorers and two who are not. We have a “no thank you” helping where you just have to have a taste of it, and then you can say no thank you. So much of this has to do with changing the habits of the parents so they can model for their children in a healthier way.

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