Welcome to my new blog – The Food Cop Undercover! I decide to start writing this blog for YOU! Friends and clients are always asking me what they should order when they go out to eat – they want to order something healthy, but they want something that looks and sounds appealing, and tastes good as well – all while not spending a lot of money.
Even though many restaurants now make their nutrition information available to the public (it’s the law in many states!), consumers often do not read this information – they either don’t want to take the time or they don’t understand the information, and various other reasons. I’m often told that it would be easier if somebody just gave them a list of which menu items are healthy and which ones aren’t. While I recommend that everybody become familiar with reading nutrient information, I’m hoping this blog will assist you in making some healthy eating choices when eating out.
Let’s start with America’s most famous fast food establishment – McDonald’s! McDonald’s has experienced tremendous growth throughout the world since its beginnings in the mid-1900’s, and this includes its menu choices. These days, you can purchase your breakfast, lunch, and dinner at McDonald’s, plus enjoy coffee and dessert there as well.
So what are the healthiest and unhealthiest menu items at McDonald’s? Let’s begin with McDonald’s burgers and sandwiches! My pick for the unhealthiest burger would be the Angus Bacon & Cheese burger. With 790 calories, 17 grams of saturated fat, 145 mg of cholesterol, 2070 mg of sodium, and 13 grams of sugar, this menu item alone just about exceeds the maximum amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium a healthy person should consume in an entire day. In addition, the calorie amount is almost half of what an individual at a healthy weight should consume in a day. Add an order of medium fries and a ketchup packet (a combined 390 calories, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 370 mg of sodium, 2 grams of sugar) and a medium Coca-Cola (210 calories, 58 grams of sugar), and you have now not only greatly increased the amount of calories and exceeded the amount of sodium you should have in a day, but the sky-high sugar content will instantly boost your blood sugar levels.
How can you turn this meal into a healthier one? Begin by replacing the fries and ketchup with a side salad and Newman’s Creamy Southwest Dressing. The fresh vegetables are a great, healthy way to help meet your vitamin and mineral needs for the day. Unfortunately, McDonald’s salad dressings tend to be high in calories and sodium, but they are low in saturated fat. Don’t forget to replace that Coca-Cola with the diet version, or some old-fashioned water.
Now about that burger…McDonald’s plain old hamburger is a great substitute, with only 250 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 25 mg of cholesterol, 490 mg of sodium, and 6 grams of sugar. If you’re not stuck on having a burger, try one of McDonald’s numerous snack wraps (preferably the grilled instead of the crispy option). If you’re in the mood for fish, another option would be the Filet-O-Fish at 380 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 40 mg of cholesterol, 610 mg of sodium, and 5 grams of sugar (ordering this without the cheese reduces the sodium content to 500 mg).
Unfortunately, some of McDonald’s chicken menu items are almost as unhealthy as some of its burger options. For instance, the Premium Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich contains 620 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, 70 mg of cholesterol, 1200 mg of sodium, and 11 grams of sugar. Instead, try the Chicken McNuggets with the Honey Mustard Sauce or the Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken.
If you can’t resist the temptation for some dessert, go with the Kiddie Cone, which is served with reduced fat vanilla ice cream – this contains only 45 calories, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, and 6 grams of sugar.
Don’t forget to add some fresh Apple Slices to your meal!