By Vicki Little
Every year on their birthdays, I take my children out of school for a special lunch date — complete with an ice cream cone on the way back to school that is guaranteed to make their classmates jealous. Since we started these special lunches, the kids have always chosen McDonald’s. Considering their birthdays are in February and November, I am usually trying to lose some holiday weight. As much as I would love to eat a Big Mac and French Fries, I choose something tasty from their lighter menu.
Luckily, there are plenty of other items I enjoy that have fewer calories, but I don’t want to be “that” person at the counter staring at the nutrition information. Yet I still want to know how many calories will go into my body, so I can dutifully input the number on my fitness app. Score one for me that McDonald’s has made it easy to scrutinize the menu in the privacy of my home … so easy I TOTALLY deserve the vanilla cone as well.
Before I get to the meal-planning tool that McDonald’s has to offer, I should also mention that McDonald’s has been up to some great stuff. I’m sure you have noticed the choice of yogurt or apple slices that accompany a kid’s meal, and maybe you have noticed the healthier options for adults, such as fresh salads or wraps. But here are a few more things that health-conscious parents might be interested in:
- McDonald’s burgers are 100% beef. No fillers and no ammonia — just a yummy burger.
- For those wondering about trans fats — which have nothing to do with airlines although that is what I think of every single time I say it — McDonald’s does have some products that contain trans fats. Some of the products, such as beef and chicken, have naturally occurring trans fats, so there isn’t a whole lot they can do about that. But recently, McDonald’s has been working to decrease the artificial trans fats that had been sometimes added to items by switching to a cooking oil that reduces trans fats in most fried items and adjusting the recipes of bakery items to reduce trans fats in those.
- What about their chickens? They are happy and cage-free. The eggs used in your breakfast are fresh (as in, eggs cracked fresh in store), and the chickens they use do not include any added hormones.
Now that we can rest easy knowing that our food is fresh, we can get back to the original point: How many calories will we be eating? Did you know McDonald’s actually has a meal planner where you can put together what you would like to eat, and it gives you all the nutritional information for that meal? They even have a few sample menus, alternative suggestions, and some Simple Steps for you. It is super easy to play around with the meal options to get what you want. (Beware, it is kind of like your favorite app because once you start, you just can’t stop.) For example, I discovered that I can have a full lunch of a McChicken Sandwich (no mayo), apple slices, side salad, and a Diet Coke for only 350 calories. Then I will be fine with eating the child-sized ice cream cone because I won’t be going over on calories, and I will feel full and satisfied.
In our house, we loved McDonald’s as children, and now that we are parents, our kids get just as excited for that Happy Meal. Now that we can share the love with our children, there will be no more taking the long way home to avoid the kids seeing those golden arches!
Just one last point, because I thought it was interesting that one of my favorite items at McDonald’s has a fun fact that I never knew about. Did you know that those delicious sauce-dipping nuggets actually have four intentional shapes? Before you pop one in your mouth next time, check it out. Your little nugget is either a bell, boot, ball or a bone! Find out more at aboutmcdonalds.com.
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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