Looking for tips on how to eat healthy at McDonald’s? Read on for my experience having lunch at McDonald’s on our recent car trip.
How to Eat Healthy at McDonald’s
Step 1: Order food
Step 2: Eat it
Let me explain….
Our recent visit to McDonald’s
On our car trip home from Bald Head Island we were in the middle of nowhere North Carolina and all cranky for lunch. We stopped at an exit that had one place to eat: McDonald’s.
Having just been in vacation mode for 12 days, I was actually looking forward to getting a salad. Sometimes I order a chicken sandwich, but I’ve gotten a salad on a car trip once or twice too. They aren’t half bad! When we pulled up to the drive-thru, Thomas tried to order my salad and the woman on the other side said: “We don’t have salads here.”
So I ended up with a spicy chicken sandwich and fries. And I shared some regular Sprite too.
We had planned to attempt eating in the car (since we’re avoiding the inside of restaurants right now). But there was an empty row out outdoor tables and 75 degrees to enjoy. So we hopped out of the car, Clorox wiped down the table, and we had a very lovely lunch outside.
I thought: I have to share this moment with my blog friends. Kath Eats McDonald’s.
BC (Before Children) I packed a healthy lunch
Back in the days before I had children I would pack the healthiest of lunches for car trips.
This meant 1) we wouldn’t have to stop and 2) I could eat healthy superfoods.
The thought of stopping for fast food was just not something that even crossed my mind. And I don’t say that in a holier-than-thou way. I just didn’t really crave it. (I still don’t crave it.) But I did have a bit of a snob attitude about fast food restaurants. I would not want to go to one of those!
But once my first toddler was old enough to care what he had for lunch, we dabbled in some fast food restaurants, mostly out of necessity. I learned the joy on his face when he got a happy meal toy was more important to me than getting him a nourishing superfood meal somewhere else.
AD: (After Dear Children Came Along) We eat lunch wherever we can!
We reserve fast food visits for car trips. Mazen doesn’t ask for McDonald’s at home, but if he did, I would say “We save fast food for our car trips to keep them special.”
Birch just eats what’s put in front of them (or not – haha) but he was equally as pleased with nuggets, apple slices, milk, and a toy.
The main reason I wouldn’t want McDonald’s to become a regular activity is because we do try to eat humanely raised meat as often as we can and we have great local restaurants to support here in Cville. So an every-now-and-then visit I’m ok with.
Why am I sharing this story?
I tell you all this because I want to emphasize that all food is good food when you’re hungry.
In the healthy living community there is often a bias against so-called junk food (I have this myself sometimes!), and I have had to unlearn that.
When you’re hungry, all that matters is that you eat something you want to eat. It’s better to satisfy your hunger and be happy than be grouchy because you’re starving waiting for something “healthier” to eat when you have access.
While I clearly aim to eat nutrient-dense and as superfood-heavy as possible, eating at McDonald’s every now and then is fine too.
Eating well doesn’t mean eating perfectly 100% of the time. Intuitive eating involves being flexible with what’s available, whether that’s ordering a McDonald’s salad or a cheeseburger. It all comes down to the Squiggly Line Effect: some days you’ll eat kale salad and some days you’ll have McDonald’s on a road trip and it all shakes out in the end at the crossroads of happy and healthy.
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