Growth in childhood matters. It impacts on health through to adulthood and impacts on cancer risk. What children eat matters and how we support good eating matters. It matters what gets marketed, promoted and offered. We have much less control than we would like. This month we set out some experiences that show the challenges when #eatingoutwithkids

Eating out with kids – a granny’s perspective

Its holiday time and I have grandson R (aged 6) for 3 days. Spoiled for choice – the home front offers collecting eggs, digging tatties, watering the polytunnel veg, picking lettuce, gathering wild raspberries, making the pizza from scratch (wholegrain flour base) and fruit salad mixing.

The Dundee front offers cinema, playparks, science centre, museum, botanic gardens. OK, its holiday time and we agree to build in some food treats before we set out. One ice -cream and afternoon tea with something to share (he decides what). Agreed! Finally sounds like Granny isn’t so bad after all 😊

Actually, Dundee offers a minefield on the #eatingoutwithkids front. Day 2 starts at the science centre – major success and then lunch. We mange to get a sandwich and some water, luckily running late for a science show so no time to browse the counter. For an education centre the clearest food education was the huge row of crisps spread across the counter… not sure how they managed to balance them all. R gives me a look and says “Granny, can we have…?”. 

No time we eat lunch quickly and he fails to spot the very educational poster on Product Provenance which shows us on a map of Scotland where Irn Bru, Lomond Cakes, Tower Bakery, Kerr’s milk and cream and Mackie’s ice cream come from… and gluten free biscuits. Bottled water is also highlighted. Next craft work … has to be making our own map which highlights berries, tatties, fish, fresh water taps, free range chickens, wholegrain breads and helping little ones to learn about Scotland the best – simple and natural!

Day 3 – There we are at the 10:15 showing of Toy Story 4 and the tickets are on sale at the REFRESHMENTS counter. I confidentially say to R that no one eats this time in the morning at the cinema only to watch a mother with two under 5s buy a mega bucket of popcorn. R gives me a look and says “Granny, can we have…?” I whisk him off anxious that we’ll miss the start.

Off to the park – best swings, run around, castle, fort and it’s hot and it’s busy and it’s fun…. Till lunchtime comes around. The kiosk can offer a hot dog, burger, crisps, sweets, ices, fizzy and sugary. R gives me a look and says “Granny, can we have…” I whisk him off saying there’s a café over there.

Off to the café – at least there are sandwiches … oh and a children’s menu which offers far too much for a wee boy who is later destined for an ice cream. Sadly, he can read … ½ cheese/ham sandwich, apple or orange juice, crisps, pot of yoghurt. Sadly, he can’t read like me …. white bread, no water, who needs crisps, for yoghurt read flavoured and coloured. He says “Granny, can we have…?”

We then get to the counter displaying an amazing tray bake/fancy piece/Paradise/Mars cake and a very, very wee bowl of fruit.  I say let’s ask for a sandwich. The nice lady behind the counter says “No, we don’t have brown, we never have brown, no one asks for it”. I say “ I’m asking”, R says “Granny, can we have …..?”

We sit down with a filled roll AND CRISPS … no one asked for crisps. Then R points out the nice salad on the plate … when I opened my eyes wider I saw it, lurking behind the crisps. We both gobble up the roll and salad. He also gobbles the crisps and says “Can I have your crisps?” I say yes… Defeated! 

Grandparenting is much tougher than parenting when it comes to food. Who wants to spoil those short episodes together with saying no all the time? The kids got used to it (and even thank me now they are grown up – what memories will we leave with our grandchildren?

Let’s make #eatingoutwithkids good for everyone for them and us, for now and for our futures.