We’ve all been there — you’ve got the kids in the car and you’re headed to an event or activity and everyone is hungry. Fast food is on the menu, right? That’s the easy choice. And for many of us, that’s the choice we make.

But there are other options and, while it may take planning, preparation and a little extra time, money and legwork, it will be worth it to you and your kids in terms of a healthier lifestyle.

If you don’t like what fast food does to your body or your kids’, then by all means make a commitment to not feed it to them any longer. Here’s how:

1. Just Say No

Your kids have tasted fast food and they know how delicious those hot, crispy fries can be or how tasty a sloppy, greasy burger can be. But you are the adult in the room (or the car) and you have to be able to tell them that eating fast food is not something that you want them to do. It will be tough to quit cold turkey and your kids may resist. If they’re old enough, they may even get it on their own. But you need to set the standard and make sure that they know it’s not something you condone.

2. Set the Example

If you want your kids to avoid fast food, you have to avoid it, too. Sure, you’ll be tempted, but you must steer clear of it yourself if you are going to ask your kids to do the same. That means no sneaking it at lunch either.

3. Plan Ahead

A lot of times visiting a fast food restaurant is a crutch. It’s a place that we go to because it’s quick, it’s easy, and the restaurants are everywhere. To divorce yourself from fast food you must, first of all, find the willpower to say no. Second, you have to have another option. Pack healthy snacks or food choices when you know you’ll be gone from your home for awhile. That means cutting up fruits and vegetables or packing yogurt tubes, cheese sticks, trail mix, or other items that your kids will want to eat. Invest in a medium-sized cooler and some ice packs to help keep the food cold.

4. Find Alternatives

You can probably recite from memory the locations of the six nearest fast food restaurants to your home. Can you remember where some of the healthier restaurants are? There are lots of options out there for parents like you who are looking for good, healthy food that can be served quickly and that your kids will want to eat. Study up on the other restaurants in your area and set out to research their menus for fast food alternatives. Once your children discover them, they will probably be won over.

5. Offer Your Kids Something Else

Once you take an option off the table for your kids, they will be less and less likely to request it. If you eliminate fast food as an option for a quick drive-thru meal, your children won’t even think to demand it.

6. Discuss Nutrition and Healthy Food Choices

If your children are old enough to understand, sit down and have a discussion with them about why you think fast food is not a healthy option for them. You can give them the straight facts about cholesterol, sugars, and other content that makes fast food a poor choice for lunch, dinner, or a snack. Once they get the info, it might help them see that there are other items out there for them to eat that will keep them healthier.

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