Healthy Choices At McDonald’s: Great Ways To Eat Smart Fast Food With Children

There’s the softball and soccer practices, the flute, trumpet and violin lessons, the homework and all the other random extracurricular activities that totally suck the life out of our evenings—enough so that there are just some days when being The Best Mom takes a backseat to being The Good Enough Mom. And while The Best Mom loves to have a hot, healthy home-cooked meal on the table every night, The Good Enough Mom lives in the real world—the one where it’s hard to squeeze what feels like 100 activities into one evening and normal, average people who move through this life sans a cape and superhuman powers understand that sometimes, some things just have to give.

I’m not going to lie: at least once a week, the thing that gives is the home-cooked meal. And on those days, we certainly do find ourselves at the drive-thru, picking up fast food to scarf down between activities or after an extra-long day.

I do not feel good about this.

But it is this Good Enough Mom’s reality.

Thing is, feeding fast food to my kids does not have to be the worst thing in the world ever. Yes, I know, the studies and the headlines and the pediatricians warn differently—insist that fast food is one of the leading causes of obesity and low IQs in kids (particularly African American, Latino and low-income children). But I’m a firm believer that if we employ moderation and make smart choices when feeding our kids, eating fast food doesn’t have to be the death knell for our babies.

That’s why MyBrownBaby was so proud to partner with McDonald’s at the Be Blogalicious 2012 conference, where I was charged with spreading the word about simple steps we moms can take to make healthier choices when eating at one of the most famous fast food restaurants in our world. To be honest? My first inclination was to say, “no” to the offer to partner with McDonald’s—that is until I got the intel on what, exactly, McDonald’s is doing to offer better nutrition choices for busy moms like me.

Here’s what you should know:

McDonald’s now lists calorie information on restaurant and drive-thru menus nationwide, so that we know exactly what we’re about to put in our bellies when we’re ordering.

The McDonald’s website lists up-to-date info on McDonald’s food nutrition and some pretty awesome tips from nutritionists on how those with diet-related health issues can cut sodium, calories and fat from meals they eat at the restaurant.

McDonald’s has almost 40 menu items that are 400 calories or under, with some, like the salads, Fruit & Maple Oatmeal and Real Fruit Smoothies offering sizeable amounts of daily recommended fruits and veggies—making it that much easier to put together a complete meal that’s healthy, filling and inexpensive when you’re pressed for time.

I easily could write 1,000 more words about why I’m feeling the new charge by McDonald’s to really up the ante on healthy meal options on its menu, but I thought it would be all-the-better if I said it on camera. Check out the video I made at Blogalicious, (shout out to the interviewer/cameraman BrothaTech) explaining McDonald’s 400 and Under Favorites and the gazillion ways you can get your kids in on making healthy choices, even when you’re pressed for time, flying without your superwoman cape and leaning heavily on being a Good Enough Mom.

So you know: I recently partnered with McDonald’s to share its nutrition and healthy eating initiatives. Yes, I’m getting a check for this. No, they’re not paying me to say nice things about their food. Truth is, I love McDonald’s Egg McMuffins, Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfaits and those Mango Pineapple Real Fruit Smoothies—and was quite surprised and pleased to find out that they’re great low-calorie options. I’m happy to spread the word, especially if it means more moms like me will make healthier eating choices with their children when they find themselves in a McDonald’s. As always, my experiences and opinions are my own.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

2 Comments

  1. As a parent of three girls, I know how it is to not be able to fix hot and nutritious meals every night. There are better choices at fast food restaurants than before. It’s okay to treat them to some greasy pizza and burgers, sometimes…just not every night. I love your blog…

  2. Since trying the yogurt parfait’s at Blogalicious I have been hooked! In fact, I had one today. I usually try to stay away from McDonald’s because of their small healthy options (from what I thought) but now I’m glad to know there are more healthier options available on those days where I have no time to cook because of all the extra curricular activities my kids have.

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