You love the convenience and low cost of fast food. You even enjoy the food. It bothers you to however, because you are concerned your meals may not be that healthy. Don’t fear. While a lot of fast food may not be the healthiest choice, it is possible to eat and enjoy meals at a variety of fast food restaurants-including McDonald’s-and not worry about what you are doing to your heart, cholesterol levels, or the sugar level in your blood. You can even diet for weight loss.
McDonald’s has a variety of food for the health conscious individual. In 2003 three entrée-sized salads were added to the menu. Each Premium Salad is topped with a grilled or crispy chicken breast. You can top your salad with your choice of Newman’s Own all natural salad dressings. You will receive two sides of vegetables with each salad you purchase. A Fruit and Walnut was added in 2005 that provides 2.5 servings of the daily recommended fruit for adults.
Go Active! Happy Meals for adults were introduced in May 2004. Each meal contained a Stepometer, a Step With It! Booklet by Bob Greene, a best selling author, and personal trainer to Oprah Winfrey; a Premium Salad, and bottled water or a soft drink.
Other healthy choices at McDonald’s include a Chicken McGrill Sandwich, Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfaits, orange juice, one percent low fat white and chocolate milk, and at some restaurants, soup.
Healthy choices were introduced for Happy Meals in June 2004, including low fat white and chocolate milk, apple juice, and Apple Dippers (sliced apples with an optional low-fat caramel dip.) Each package of the dessert contains one recommended daily serving of fruit.
McDonald’s has done other things to promote nutrition, in addition to offering healthy menu items. McDonald’s and You brochures are offered, which show nutrient breakdowns and food exchanges. The brochures also show menu information for those with allergies and sensitivities. Nutrition fact sheets also provide information on how to cut calories, carbohydrates, and fat. Choices for those with diabetes are also provided. Trayliners that provide nutritional information are also given.
Happy Meal packaging was introduced in 2004 to offer children fun information of nutrition and physical activity.
A program, “What’s on Your Plate?” featuring host Willie Munchright, teaches elementary schoolchildren about the importance of physical activity and making smart food choices, was introduced by McDonald’s in 1992. The curriculum is offered to schools free of charge.
McDonald’s also has a website, http://www.mcdonalds.com/usa/eat.html, to help educate people about nutrition content of menu items and plan meals.
The website shows a variety of important information, such as how many calories would be saved by leaving mayonnaise off a sandwich. It also offers other information on how to cut calories, fat, and carbohydrates. It offers meal choices for vegetarians and those with diabetes. Frequently asked questions about nutrition are answered.
Past and current Olympians, Olympic hopefuls, and mothers of Olympians have helped McDonald’s promote a healthy lifestyle. They present a quiz to find out how much is known worldwide about energy balance. The quiz was developed with the help of health professionals and physical activity experts. To take the quiz, to go www.GoActive.com.
You don’t have to give up eating out at your favorite fast food restaurant, even if you want to eat healthier. A variety of health conscious alternatives are offered at most fast food restaurants, including McDonald’s. Other menu items can be adapted to make them healthier.