SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Local health officials want to remind parents about healthy eating habits for kids as busy schedules pick back up with school back in session.

Going through the drive-thru or picking up a quick meal can be convenient for busy parents, especially when they are on the go for activities and events. However, Cheri Harrison the pediatric program coordinator for Memorial Center for Healthy Families wants to remind parents about getting a purposeful meal when they eat out.

"Going out to eat in our society today is a part of what we do," explained Harrison.

Harrison said it's OK for parents to go through the drive-thru or grab take out at a convenient restaurant, but she wants parents to plan ahead and consider the healthy options for their kids.

"Let's say Tuesday night is going to be the night we go out to eat, that's OK, but let's make sure to pick our restaurant ahead of time so we're not driving around town," explained Harrison. "If we know where we are going ahead of time, we can look at that menu and say OK here are some of the options available and here are some of the kids meals, let's make choices in mind with our health goals."

While many restaurants have increased efforts over the years to includes healthy options, Harrison says it's best to take a few moments out of the day to plan and look over the menu so when it comes time to make the choice on what to eat parents already have a healthy meal idea in their head.

"If we are seeing options that are fried foods for example, that might be a great opportunity to choose a baked option or grilled option," said Harrison.

Other food reminders Harrison added was pay attention to sugar content. Restaurants are required to provide nutrition information on the menus, Harrison said it takes a quick review and encourage kids to get a drink or meal with less sugar. Also, parents should request fruits and vegetables if the restaurants provides that option. She goes on to explain that picking these healthier alternatives will help reduce health risks a child could face later in life.

"If we can be a role model for healthy options and healthy food selections when we're adults and our kids are younger, that's going to lead them down that healthier path to be able to make healthy choices for themselves as an adult," said Harrison.

For more information about healthy life styles and the Memorial Center for Healthy Families click here.

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