Are they really “Happy” Meals?

It really saddens me to hear of parents taking their children for fast food meals every week as a “treat”.  If O didn’t have grandparents that regularly looked after him whilst I’m working, he would have yet to set foot in a McDonald’s “restaurant”.

I’m not a food angel by any means.  From time to time, I enjoy a takeaway from our local authentic chinese restaurant (who don’t deliver which is so annoying) and quite partial to a fish and chips from Karen’s chippy in the middle of a terrace of houses in a neighbouring village.  If O is still up, he sometimes shares what we get from these places – he loves the prawn crackers and wan tons from the chinese, and there is no other fish like that from the chip shop!

Why are Happy Meals and Fast Food bad for our children

But McDonald’s, particularly McDonald’s, really gets me in the gut.  I haven’t eaten at this “restaurant”, and I use the term loosely, for many years.  Since I was a teenager, in fact.  The smell of the place really makes my skin crawl and my stomach churn.

You see, although the food might look and taste good, it’s crammed full of stuff that if you knew it was there, you probably wouldn’t eat it.  They must have a fabulous marketing team, because I really can’t see why anyone would want to eat this stuff.

I cannot understand why parents would “treat” their children to this food.  The happy meals have such low nutritional content, but woohoo! they receive a free plastic toy.  The fruit bag they receive is hardly an equaliser to the burger or chicken nuggets and fries that the kid has already consumed.  If anything, it promotes that it’s ok to eat whatever processed rubbish you like – so long as you have fruit for your pudding.  Because that makes all the nasty chemicals, additives and preservatives you’ve just swallowed into your tiny innocent gut to just magically disappear.

It gets my goat even more so when parents who are dieting, wanting to change their current lifestyle to a healthier one, are effectively teaching their kids that this choice is ok.  I don’t think it is ok.  I think it’s wrong.  Let’s face it, would you need to teach them to make better choices for a healthier lifestyle in the future if you’d kept them away from these places initially?

I understand that parents want to opt for the easy choice sometimes – I do this myself.  I’m a mum, working full time, with a house to keep, family to love and various extra activities which means that I don’t always have the time to cook things from scratch.  But I do believe that this type of “fast food” is damaging our kids; their health and their attitude towards food.

There are better options for our children.  Even if a “treat” is on the cards, why not nip to the chip shop instead.  At least there, you know the fish is fresh, made with a batter of flour and egg and freshly chipped potatoes fried in oil.  Yes, it’s not the healthiest of options – but it sure as hell is better than those 12 chemicals on the McDonald’s lettuce inside your burger to keep it crisp.  And the rest.

6 thoughts on “Are they really “Happy” Meals?

  1. Facebook really angered me this week seeing a baby that isn’t even one tucking into a Macdonalds cheese burger. Then later in the week a KFC. My son is 5 and I do take him to Macdonalds but As there are none within a 25 minute radius it’s quite rare. He’s 5, almost 6 so I’m ok with it – but when BABIES are being fed it it really does scare me. Similarly when you see parents tipping coke into their bottles or worse still – energy drinks. It’s quite frightening really

  2. I agree that McDonald’s shouldn’t be a ‘treat’, but I also think that it is probably a good idea for it to be occasionally present. If it’s a ‘treat’ it creates the wrong associations – I think fast food is a ‘treat’ and so when I’m feeling low, I choose McDonald’s.

    Mind you, I worked there for 5 years, I know how good the food checking procedures are, and I know what the worst that can be wrong with the food is (as far as freshness is concerned).

    If I’m having a bad day, or a very busy day, taking my two to McDonalds helps me out. I can sit in, I don’t have to bring it home or clean up the kitchen.

    Mind you, we have 6 McDonald’s in our small city!

    1. We have very few fast food outlets around us as we live in the middle of nowhere essentially. We have a McDonald’s in the nearest town and no other options such as burger king or KFC. I can see your point about the easiness to clean up afterwards though. 🙂

  3. Agree completely. I think having McDonalds as a treat or bribe for children, and something they go to regularly is awful. It’s teaching wrong habits and we have only taken the kids twice when there have been no other options available – in retail parks! x

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