In dire need of a breakfast sandwich? Dunkin Donuts is, without a doubt, one of the most popular chains in America for coffee and breakfast. But take your kids in there with you and you're setting yourself up for all kinds of requests for Dunkin's sprinkle-coated, fun-shaped treats.
According to Katrina Trisko, MS, RDN, CDN, a New York City-based registered dietitian, it is possible to find a healthy option at this chain.
"Some locations may offer whole pieces of fruit, like an apple or banana, which are the best options for kids' snacks," Trisko advises. However, not all branches of the chain carry fresh fruit. And let's be honest — what kid would opt for a banana or egg white sandwich amidst all the sweet treats on such bright display?
Depending on what your kids are craving, there are a few different options you can order at Dunkin Donuts without feeling like you're sacrificing nutritional value.
1. Raspberry or Blueberry Iced Tea
If your kids want one of Dunkin's drinks, Trisko recommends getting them a Raspberry or Blueberry Iced Tea instead of their notoriously sugary frozen drinks.
"Their medium-sized frozen fruit drinks can have up to 90 grams of sugar, nearly double the amount of sugar in a single can of soda," Trisko warns. "Try grabbing a small- or medium-sized flavored iced tea, which is much lower in sugar and a better option to grab for your kids on the go."
2. Wake Up Wrap
Courtney Ferreira, registered dietitian nutritionist, recommends Dunkin's Wake Up wrap sandwich, a tortilla folded over with eggs, cheese, and bacon inside.
This menu item offers a good amount of protein, "which can actually give kids some fuel and energy instead of just a large load of sugar," Ferreira explains.
3. Turkey Sausage Sandwich on an English Muffin
Julie Mancuso, registered holistic nutritionist, advises looking for a lean protein when choosing a meal or snack. She explains that the Turkey Sausage Sandwich on an English Muffin contains more vitamins and less sugar than the other sandwich option; choosing the English muffin over the bagel makes this less of a large caloric load for a snack.
4. Multigrain Bagel with Strawberry Cream Cheese
But, as Katrina Trisko explains, bagels aren't all bad! This is especially true for kids, who need lots of energy from carbohydrates and whole grains. If you're opting for a bagel, Trisko says the multigrain bagel is your best bet.
"The multigrain bagel provides carbohydrates to keep your energizer bunnies running," she explains. "And fiber to keep their digestive systems healthy."
5. A Donut
All in all, though, the experts agreed that if your kid wants a donut, it's okay to let them have the donut.
"If you're taking your child to Dunkin Donuts for a snack, chances are they want a donut," Ferreira says. "Restricting children from food or telling them something is 'bad' and they can't eat it is worse for their long-term health and relationship to food than just eating a donut."
Adina Pearson, dietitian and founder of Healthy Little Eaters, agrees. "You generally don't go to Dunkin Donuts for a well-rounded, balanced meal, right?" she pointed out. "I think it's fine to let kids choose something just because it's delicious."
In fact, she explained, trying to teach them moderation or calling certain foods "unhealthy" can backfire in the long run.
"Kids don't do 'moderation' from a cognitive level," Pearson explains. "The good food/bad food dichotomy teaches kids to feel badly or guilty for eating foods they enjoy, teaches them a disordered eating outlook, and disconnects them from their appetite signals."
In other words, if your kids want a donut, let them have the donut! If they're just hungry, however, maybe opt for something else.