The Not So Happy Meal

You may have heard about the recent ban in San Fransisco on restaurants offering children’s toys along with meals containing too much fat and sugar. If not, you can read more about that here.  The main offender in this is McDonald’s with their famous Happy Meal. The ruling says that a restaurant may offer a toy as long as the meal contains fewer than 600 calories.

I’m sure many of you enjoyed these toys as a child, as I did. Although we didn’t go often, it was a treat once in a while, and let’s face it: the toys are FUN. The problem is that our society as a whole, especially children, is becoming more and more obese and developing conditions which kill (like type 2 diabetes).

For many who are counting our pennies more carefully these days, McDonald’s provides a cheaper way to fill the belly at a place that kids love.  The problem is that THE FOOD THERE WILL KILL YOU IF YOU MAKE IT A REGULAR PART OF YOUR DIET.

Was that a little strong? Oh. Good.

Have you ever seen the movie documentary Super Size Me? It’s very interesting. It’s all about McDonald’s and follows a man who commits to eat there every day for a period of time, documenting his health changes as they occur. Here’s the beginning of it:

This ban is a good thing. Your children being enticed to eat at McDonald’s by the toys they receive there only helps them to become addicts at an early age. After that, the warm fuzzy feelings will be overtaken by the actual, physical addiction that occurs when high amounts of hydrogenated fats, processed sugars, flavor enhancers (MSG and other excitotoxins) are consumed.

Did you realize that these foods are addictive? Not from just this but any fast food restaurant, as well as packaged “junk” foods you buy at the grocery store and then serve at home? Your body was not designed to eat these chemicals and so will crave them again instead of what would be a naturally healthful choice.

I’m glad this law was passed. Unfortunately, though, it really is up to parents to change how they feed their kids for it to do any real good.

I understand the temptation to save money and time by going to the golden arches. I really do. I’d like to leave you with some thoughts on these two points.

  1. You aren’t really saving money. What I mean is, the “food” you get there is not really food. It does not satisfy your body’s need for nutrients. Your brain will tell your body it needs to eat again soon (that is, as soon as the chemicals from the food wear off), and the sicknesses you will encounter will cost far more than a more expensive real food meal would.  An apple and a handful of raw nuts would be far more nutritious (think: cost-efficient) than a happy meal and probably cost even less.
  2. You can prepare a home cooked meal without too much time involved with a little bit of planning ahead.  If you work full time and arrive home with no time to prepare, you can prep ahead and leave your crock pot doing the work for you before you leave in the morning. There are many resources to help you plan meals; you can read FamilyNatural’s post about menu planning here. An apple and a handful of raw nuts would be even faster to prepare than taking a trip through the drive through.

Are you seeing a trend here?

Remember, it’s up to you to train your children’s taste buds. However you teach them to eat, they will likely continue to do as they grow. My children are very happy having smoothies for breakfast, salads and whole grains, beans, etc. They are also very happy when they get a hamburger. If I gave them a choice of fast food, they would take it. But they are perfectly happy and MUCH healthier without that option.

Other related posts:

Here’s my post on How Chicken Nuggets are Made

and a chart showing Everything You Need to Know About Fast Food

How Chicken Nuggets Are Made

Jamie Oliver did an experiment for his Food Revolution in which he shows children how their beloved chicken nuggets are actually made, hoping to sufficiently gross them out and help them to choose differently once they know the truth. Sadly, the American children were still happy to eat the monstrosity he created. In contrast, the British children he’d practiced on previously were unwilling to eat once they knew the truth. Maybe the fluoride in our water and the drugs for the ADHD have made our children so completely stupid that they cannot make good choices. Pathetic. Watch for yourself to have an idea how these nuggets get made; it’s interesting, in a disgusting sort of way.

What difference does it make what you eat? Parts is parts, after all. Right?

And, now for some writing.  This article explains exactly how those things are made, at the end is a recipe for making your own healthier nuggets. I’m not sure I’d use the cornflakes, but whole wheat breadcrumbs would work fine.

Chicken Nuggets
By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to get my nutritional feathers ruffled. I’ve seen a lot of things that have made me crazy over the years and you’ve heard me harp on them—from “healthy” whole wheat donuts to artificial sweeteners, Olestra and acrylimide. I’ve sang the siren’s song about good nutrition and what I believe too, to be common sense nutrition. Why would we drink something, in the name of quenching our thirst, that looks like toilet bowl cleaner or antifreeze?

Anyway, today I stop singing and start sounding the alarm. We absolutely must stop the madness that is fast food. We absolutely must stop the madness and the obesity and the rise in degenerative diseases. We are raising an unhealthy generation because we feed this junk to our kids! PLEASE STOP!

I know there are attempts at some fast food places to do better. As Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.” Well, today you are going to know better about chicken nuggets, because today, I am going to tell you all I know about them.

First, McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets contain 38 ingredients. Yes, THIRTY EIGHT ingredients! Some of those ingredients are things you wouldn’t give to your DOG. Some of those things, you could use to start a fire—well, almost. Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a derivative of petroleum that is sprayed on the nugget or in the box that holds the nugget to keep it fresh. TBHQ is also a derivative of butane, also known as lighter fluid. It is furthermore a suspected carcinogen—cancer-causing agent.

The batter is set in shortening (hydrogenated oils) and in turn, it is cooked in partially hydrogenated oils at the restaurant. Some of the additives in there are antifoaming agents, emulsifiers, leavening agents, preservatives, fillers and binders. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Something you’d want to feed your kids?

The nuggets themselves contain 53% chicken. You wanna know what that 53% chicken is? I promise you it isn’t nice white chicken breasts! If you find those nuggets spongy and watery it’s because the chicken meat and skin is ground into a slurry, binders and fillers are added, plus lots of water, then formed into neat little nuggets.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ILL. Why do we manufacture stuff like this and then call it food? Where’s the value in it?

Please, for the children’s sake and for your own health’s sake, let’s stop this craziness with the food. It’s time to get back to basics and only eat food that is 100% identifiable. If you don’t know exactly what went into what you’re eating, you’re making a mistake. Our bodies do not need to contend with more pollution than what is already in our environment.

Here’s a quick and easy alternative to chicken nuggets:

Crunchy Honey Mustard Chicken Fingers
Serves 4

1 pound chicken tenders
1/4 cup honey, warmed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup corn flakes, crushed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

In a small bowl, mix mustard and honey together. In another bowl, place the crushed corn flakes.

In assembly line fashion, dip the chicken tender in the mustard mixture, then roll in the corn flakes and place on the cooked sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, or when cooked through

Copyright (C) 2010 www.savingdinner.com Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved