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Healthy Happy Meal

Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just easier to drive to a talking wall, ask them for food, and have them just hand it to you. Life can be crazy, and eating can be the last thing that we think about many times. But that is kind of the problem. We don’t think about ourselves and our health as much as we consider our schedule and deadlines. Guess what!? Without you, you will not have deadlines. If you die from heart disease, you won’t have to worry about your deadlines ever again.

Yes, that’s dramatic, but it’s the truth. Americans are really good at getting heart disease. So much so, that 1 in 4 deaths in the United States are caused by it. It’s the leading cause of death in America. So yes, maybe I was being dramatic. Then again, maybe I was not.

Okay, so I like getting a sausage McMuffin and hash browns when I am hungover. Did I say that? I don’t drink alcohol. ;) But honestly, the English muffins I make at home taste better anyway; and their calorie and fat count are epically lower. Homemade versus fast food is seriously different health wise. Even when you order a salad at Wendy’s. Also, if you are at Wendy’s why are you getting a salad when you can be dipping fries into a Frosty? Come on, go big or go home folks.

Let’s discuss a 6-piece Happy Meal from McDonalds. The meals we give our children because we are on the go and don’t have time to stop and eat a homemade meal while running errands, dealing with deadlines and living an on-the-go lifestyle. It’s not about the toy, don’t lie to yourselves, it’s about the convenience. The toys used to matter in the 1980-90s when they were awesome; now they are crap.

Calorie-wise (270) this isn’t the worst meal you can feed your kiddos, but it’s not all about the calories. This has 16 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of protein (not horrible) and 510 milligrams of sodium with 1 grams of sugar. That’s without any dipping sauce, mind you. The sauce is where the sugars hide out. That is just six chicken nuggets.

French fries add 110 more calories, 5 g of fat, 15 g of carbohydrates, 1 g of protein and 80 mg of sodium and still a solid zero grams of sugar. Again, toss in the ketchup and that is where the sugar can be found.

So, let’s say you get apple slices and a water (which most families will opt to add in sugar and calories with a Sprite or possibly extra protein with a milk), here is the grand total:

400 Calories

21 g Fat

35 g Carbohydrates

16 g Protein

3 g Sugar

580 mg Sodium

If they use barbecue sauce to dip their nuggets in, toss in an extra 45 calories, 10 g carbs, 10 g sugar and 250 mg of sodium. With ketchup on the fries, add in 15 more calories, 3 g carbs, 2 g sugar and 110 mg sodium. That’s just for one packet of ketchup though, many of us use more than that so these numbers could be almost 5x more.

460 cal

21 fat

48 carbs

16 protein

15 sugar

940 sodium

For an 8-year-old child, the recommended daily counts are as follows, depending on their growth and activity: 1200-2000 calories

Just under half their daily intake of calories is taken in this one meal, so long as they only consume one packet of ketchup and drink a water. Not pictured in these numbers are the saturated fat intakes, the grease and oil intakes, etc.

If you are feeding a kiddo three meals a day, which I hope you are (even though I am HORRIBLE at eating three meals a day; I am not a growing child, so it’s okay), this one meal is about half their intake so you now have to watch the other two meals to be sure you are not encouraging obesity.

It’s a slippery slope. In today’s world we are expected to do and be everything to everyone at all times. But that needs to stop; it’s not possible. We are burning ourselves out on an incredible level and more and more people just can’t handle these outlandish expectations. So as much as I am urging you, and myself, to cook more at home and pay closer attention to what we’re eating, the reality is that this is not always going to happen. We are going to be tired; we are going to be worn out, we are going to simply not care.

That is okay! You do you, just make sure you are taking care of yourself and making time to breathe. We can do this, we will survive! *cue Gloria Gaynor



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