Chch parents sick of pies and chips

The latest American Express dining survey has found that 70 per cent of Christchurch respondents want restaurants to improve the nutritional value of children's meals. And 47 per cent want more vegan, vegetarian and allergy free options.

It is a trend echoed throughout the country, and internationally. 

Restaurant Association of New Zealand chief executive Marisa Bidois said many restaurants were already starting to respond to the demand.

"Many of our members are already making changes to their children's menu and we expect that as this trend gathers momentum, more restaurants will respond to customer demand,'' she said.

"In the US, healthier menu options for children has been identified as a top dining trend for 2013, and here at home, restaurant operators that have focused on developing kids' meals, as a way of winning new business, are reaping the rewards.'

'However, some parents say finding suitable restaurants that cater to their child's dietary requirements is still a challenge.

Among them is Angela Dunbar. Her two children Sam, 10 and Jamie, 13, are both allergic to dairy, egg, wheat and gluten. As a result, dining out was ''pretty tough''.

Dunbar said that often the only food option for her boys was on the adults menu and even then it had to be adapted. Most places were pretty accommodating though, she said.

''We start with a meal and pare it back.... Usually the only thing we can get for them is plain steak or grilled chicken.'

'This would be then typically be accompanied with a salad - with no dressing - or vegetables and fries or rice.

Dunbar said it was more expensive having to purchase them an adult's meal but she was ''just happy to find something they can eat''.

Canterbury Community and Public Health dietitian Janne Pasco also wanted to see a shift away from chicken nuggets and chips type meals, which were ''so old fashioned'', to more healthy options.

Pasco felt children's menus should be removed altogether and replaced with the option of buying ''child sized portions''.

The Press