My kids — like most– love chicken fingers. I usually don’t mind them and have even helped myself to leftovers when my boys don’t clean their plate. But we just returned from spring break in Florida where my children (ages 6, 8 and 12) ate more fried fowl than I ever want to see again.
I’m kind of a stickler for nutrition so vacation is their time to spurn the spinach and embrace the junk. They get sweet cereal for the week (Lucky Charms and Cookie Crisp are favs) and I hold my tongue when they choose fast food. In our regular routine at home, we don’t eat out often, but when we’re forced to frequent restaurants for all our meals, the kids’ menu gets old fast.
Most restaurants offer the fatty four: hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta, and chicken fingers– usually stacked next to a teeming pile of fries. I’m not a fan of the nitrates in a hot dog, my kids aren’t big meat eaters, and pasta puts them in carb overload with no protein. That leaves chicken fingers as the most “sensible” choice.
Where’s the regard for basic nutrition? How about scrambled eggs and a fruit cup? Or spaghetti with meatballs instead of a half cup of butter. My kingdom for a piece of protein not deep-fried in oil with a green vegetable on the side!
At one point in the week, 6-year-old Eli was feeding on fingers twice a day. He had no issue with it, but watching him bathe his chicken and fries in ketchup was starting to make me ill. I ordered salads with every meal, hoping he would eat off my plate. My boys actually like many vegetables but they take an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude towards healthy food while on vacation.
There’s also the drink dilemma. Often when we go out, we let the kids order soda or lemonade, instead of their usual milk or water with meals. It’s a special treat they treasure. But when we were eating out for every meal, they were downing 2-3 sugary glasses a day. When I tried to set limits, they all sneered at me like I was the Wicked Witch, spoiling their innocent fun.
I believe in moderation so I’m willing to restrain my instincts on vacation. At home again, reality sets in and it’s back to balanced breakfasts and veggies at dinner. Chicken fingers will be off the menu for a while. I feel better and deep, deep down, they do too.