Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dear McDonald's,

This has been boiling up inside of me for a few months now- ever since the press release went out about the changes coming to the McDonald's Happy Meal.

It is well known in my family that Mommy Doesn't Choose McDonald's.  

But sometimes... it is the easiest option.  Sometimes... it's a special treat with Daddy.  Sometimes my family eats McDonald's.  Not regularly, but sometimes.

McDonald's, you said you want to make Happy Meals a healthier choice for kids.  I am fully on board with that.  I'm looking forward to grilled chicken bites or a grilled chicken sandwich.  I'm looking forward to a side salad or a bigger serving of apples- maybe even with the skin still on them.  I'm looking forward to small bottles of water being offered- or at least being able to order water as the drink with the Meal.

But no.  That isn't the path you chose, McDonald's.

Still get the same crappy choice of hamburger or cheeseburger (nasty ground up meat containing ingredients that I can't pronounce) or fried and breaded nuggets of meat that is supposed to be chicken but is made up of a consistency that doesn't resemble any chicken I've ever seen.

No improvement.

Did we put the skin back on the apples?  Did we make the apples the standard side in the Happy Meal?  Nope.  Now, you get BOTH apples and fries in your Happy Meal.  The apples- about 4 little slices to the pack, still no skin on the apple.  The fries- a tiny size but still there.  Some stores will let you order double apples- or double fries.  Some stores won't let you do the substitution.

Drink options are still all sugary junk options aside from plain white milk.

McDonald's, you say you made this change because the number of Happy Meals being sold where apples was requested as the side was really low.  But the side isn't the only problem with the food you are offering to children!

I am big on personal responsibility.  I don't think anyone should ever look to you as a source of health food. However, if you are going to present yourself as advocating for healthy choices and express concern over the need for healthier options for kids, I'd really like you to put some money where your mouth is.

Grilled chicken bites made from real chicken- not processed from chicken parts.  Grilled chicken sandwich, grilled chicken wrap.  All great options.  Heck, even a hamburger or cheeseburger is fine when made from real beef and not a bunch of chemical fillers.

Apples with the skin on.  Grapes would be an option.  Natural applesauce (no added sugar).  Baby carrots. Celery.  Raisins. Kid sized salad. All great options.

Water. White milk.  Better chocolate milk (like TrueMoo made without high fructose corn syrup).

No soda.  No fries. No deep fried food.  Make it more of a conscious effort for a parent to feed those things to their kids.

You can do better.  But only if you choose to do better.

Until then, I guess my family and I will continue to keep McDonald's on the "only sometimes" list.  In fact, as I rededicate myself to healthy eating, it's going on the "rarely" list.

P.S.  I am forwarding this to Wendy's, Arby's, Taco Bell, and others- this is a fast food problem in general.  I wish that I could spend my money at Chick Fil A because they have the healthy options and customer service thing down to a science (unfortunately, they also have the "be like all the straight, white, Christian men or we will fire you, refuse to serve you, or pay money to fight against your rights" thing down to a science, too).  There is a REAL OPPORTUNITY for one of the big fast food names to step up and make a REAL CHANGE.



Rebeca @ The Average Parent said...

that's exactly what I thought when we went there recently on a road trip. I always order apples for my boys...but was bummed to see that the apple serving was now smaller and they were giving them fries. Now, I'm not totally anti fries, but I didn't want the kids to have them this time.

I love the idea of grapes, raisins, apple sauce, carrot sticks or even baby carrots (even though I know they have weird crap on them to stay fresh) My kids would probably prefer any of those options because restaurant apples never taste as good after they put that anti browning stuff on them. I'm sure bananas would be asking too much because then they'd have to worry about keeping fresh food on hand...something I'm not sure they know how to do.

Garret said...

I love McDonalds and it's a good thing I rarely eat there. I like it during my binging. ;-)

Unknown said...

Before we moved to Germany five years ago, we'd eaten at McDonalds once with our then-only child and he hated. But after being in a place where the food was heavy and unfamiliar - though incredibly fresh and preservative free, we started eating at McDonalds to feel like we were at 'home'.

I'm happy to say we only eat at McDonalds rarely these days. My dd always gets the apples and my son gets the fries. The nuggets are disgusting but neither child likes burgers. My kids are probably like a lot of kids (or at least my son is, my daughter will eat anything) and even if carrots, salad etc was offered, they wouldn't choose it or eat it.

I'm not saying McDonalds is healthy, I won't eat it unless I have zero other options, but realistically, it's a fast food joint. It will never change. Period.

Does yours not offer apple juice boxes? That's the drink we always get. My kids don't ask for and know they are not at all allowed to have soda of any sort.

Eternal Lizdom said...

I didn't bring up the juice thing just because it's a split topic, i think. My kids generally don't drink juice aside from orange juice sometimes. So we have done a juice box but it isn't my preference due to the concentrated sugar content.

Momza said...

We call McDonald's "McBarfos" and rarely go there. Rarely, as in, twice a year. It's just yucky.
If we do choose to have fastfood, it's generally Subway or Chick-Fil-A.
Go Fresh or Go Home.

Alison said...

Sounds like all the conscientious parents out there have to cut up a bunch of carrots and celery and carry an emergency stash at all times, so they can do a switcheroo with the fries. Yeah, that won't cause any tantrums!

When you think about the multi-step processing and additives, it's amazing what we consider "food" these days, isn't it? Y'know, grocery stores could do good business if they installed drive-up windows to sell meals & snacks w/fresh produce.

No, on second thought, they probably wouldn't. Nice dream, though.

Anonymous said...

McIck is what it is called at our house. My 15 yo has maybe had it twice, in his life. When school field trips would stop there, he would refuse to eat! Love that kid. I read about the new "choices". They really dont give you a choice, do they...or they do....not going there is a choice.

Nej said...


Heather said...

I haven't had McDonalds since February of 2011 at first due to surgery restrictions, and now due to personal choices. My "go to" if I have to have fast food (which is pretty rare now) is Wendy's due to their chili- 37g of protein is pretty awesome and cheap. I also do Subway and just pick at the bread after eating all the meat, toppings, etc. Kudos to you for trying to do what is best, health wise for your family. I cannot imagine how hard it is to be on the go with 2 kids and still eat healthy :)

Bill Lisleman said...

My my the confession at the start of your post has thinking we have reach the point of classifying McD's as poison or something. I agree with much of what you go on to write but McD's is OK. Sure not everyday and yes some of their stuff is much worst that other things. Oh the happy meal thing - so so glad I don't deal with that much (grandkids sometimes). Promise the kids a real small toy somewhere later and buy them a real meal. In fact if you plan the trip, buy some cheap toys and bring them with. Tell them they can enjoy big kid food.
I like their Big Mac, Cheeseburger, Argus Burger but think the Mcnuggets are worst than dog food.