June 14, 2007

McDonalds Much?

If one is not a regular patron of McDonald's, it can be good smug fun to check out their nutritional information. Some of the more amusing items: a large order of Chicken Breast Strips: 1270 calories; Deluxe Breakfast with Large Biscuit, 1380 calories (plus another 250 if you want a large orange juice with that); Large Vanilla "Triple Thick Shake," 1110 calories... you get the idea. "People" eat these things but probably most of you don't, or at least not regularly.

But consider a more "typical" take-out meal at the Golden Arches, say a Big Mac, medium fries, and a large (but not Super-Sized) Coke. That will run you 1230 calories--and that doesn't include dessert. And isn't there's something about the junky but compelling blend of salty, greasy, savory flavors, combined with the sense that you've already sinned, that makes dessert seem sort of hard to resist? Only problem: that "Swamp Sludge McFlurry" is another 710 calories.

At this point, Crabby will confess that this post was originally going to be about other, healthier Take-Out options--the McDonald's part was just going to be an aside. But instead, we'll save the Other Options for later. Crabby is not done talking about McDonalds yet.

Crabby and her Most Significant Other take a fair number of road trips and sometimes they find themselves at a McDonalds. Crabby actually enjoys a Big Mac and a milkshake as much as the next American, but she doesn't usually order that. She sees people all around her ordering and eating huge gluttonous feasts, and feeding them to their children as well. Crabby is horrified and jealous at the same time.

On the other hand, Crabby doesn't order a salad either. It's McDonalds! She can't make herself order a salad. Because with proper planning, trips to McDonalds can actually fit quite well into Crabby's 90/10 rule.

Here's is the trick with McDonalds--you have to Mitigate and Accessorize.

And what the hell does that mean?

By "Mitigate," Crabby means: don't order a whole big meal of all the Evil McDonald's items. If you're craving a burger, order one with a diet drink, but no fries or dessert. If you've been thinking for days about one of their air-puffed but strangely delicious hot fudge sundaes (330 calories without the peanuts) then you need to save that for a treat and have something small and healthy elsewhere for lunch.

And to "Accessorize" is simply to bring other stuff along. (They don't search you at the door). Take in an apple to replace the french-fries; a banana to slice over their pancakes, a couple of carrots to chomp on before you get to your burger. Crabby has done it numerous times and no one even looks at her funny. (And yes, if you're not coming from home you have to make two stops. But convenience stores often at least have the fruit if not the carrots).

Crabby's personal McDonald's favorites: an Egg Mcmuffin (300 calories); or the aforementioned hot fudge sundae. For a junky fast food burger, she actually prefers Burger King.

So Smart Readers, are you appalled that Crabby does this on rare occasions? (Appleton, one of our Refined Regulars, would no doubt rather be struck dead by lightning than down a Big Mac. Crabby hopes he stops by to give her hell). Or do any of the rest of you ever visit McDonald's sometimes yourself?


  1. I HATE fast-food. I used to like it, but a few years ago I lost the taste for it. Every couple of month I give in to the kiddow and take them to McDonalds. I order the grilled chicken salad thingy with low-fat dressing. It's not that I don't like burgers, it's that theirs are tasteless. All I taste are the condiments, so why consume the fat and chance indigestion for that nasty thing?

  2. Mmm...A quarter-pounder with cheese is a road trip must. 90/10 is a good rule. Eating a strict diet Monday-Saturday works for me, and then I get to do whatever I want on Sunday. And if I overdo it on Sunday, I usually disgust myself so it's easy to go back to regulated strictness on Monday.

  3. I don't eat much fast food anymore and can't seem to get excited about McD. Fast food in general tends to be too salty and dependent on wheat.
    Nothing wrong with enjoying it on occasion, though, and it does cover all four food groups: sugar, salt, starch, and fat.

  4. Hi half man,
    Good for you for ordering the salad. I think there's an 8 year old part of me that can still appreciate the junky taste of fast food, even though my grownup side says "no" most of the time.

    Hi Helena and welcome! Sounds like you have great system. Once a week seems like a really sensible schedule for a bit of overindulgence, especially if it self-corrects by Monday.

    Hi leah,
    Yeah, lots of wheat and salt. It's great that it isn't even appealing to you.

  5. most mcdonalds is worse than the other fast food out there. except for the breakfasts. an egg mcmuffin used to be ritual before performances. and i do like those hash browns

  6. I am pretty sure they sprinkle the fries with some addictive drug. I mean I eat them and then I can't stop thinking about them for days. Neither can my colon, but I digress.
    Again, Crabby, I think you are so right. McD, done once in a while, is fine in anyones diet.
    Leah j. utas, are you allergic to wheat? McD's I have found to be pretty safe for me (being gluten intolerant) when I am on the road, you just have to know how to order there is all.

  7. MacDonald's is, I'm sorry, but quite disgusting. Blah. As the mother of a TV ad drenched six year old I do find myself there on occasion to allow said six year old to partake in the sheer delight of the happy meal and play land. However, I also find that there is nothing I like to eat there. Now as far as fast food I'll admit to a certain Sonic crush because of their yummy cherry cokes.

    But alas no Sonics where I recently moved. We try to skip the fast food whenever possible.

  8. I think it's great that you have ways to include your favorites from to time. It's all about balance and what is working for you.

    I personally love their fish sandwiches -- but so far I haven't had one in long time. If I do the first thing I'd do is scrape off 90% of the sauce - it really is way too much any way.

    Lady Rose

  9. I still hit the McD at times, but not alone, only if my friends want to go there. It's not often (not every week, for instance), and I don't have the heart to make a fuss about it and force them to go elsewhere (I'm the minority, heh).

    Fortunately, I'm gifted with a stomach--or a liver--that can't process too much junk food all at once, so a cheeseburger and the smallest portion of French fries is way enough for me. No room nor desire for a dessert, nor for a drink. I bring my water anyway.

    Unfortunately, our McD's here have close to not 'healthy' options, and their salads taste even worse than their burgers. So I'm still stuck eating the burgers. And I must have that 8-years old in me, too. ^_^;

    This said, we don't do that on a whim, it's only after going to the movies for instance. Since it's planned, I can make sure to be extra careful during the rest of the week.

  10. The only reason I would even consider going into a fast food joint is to use the bathroom or buy a cup of coffee.

    Okay, maybe if I had somehow found myself on the road without bringing food along... but that's not likely to happen. And if it did, I'd go with a salad or a plain burger, no fries.

    It's been so long since I've eaten fast food, though, that my taste buds and my stomach would really prefer I pop into a convenience store and get some yogurt, instead.

    It's not that I'm unwilling to splurge calorically. Ask anyone who has gone to a good Indian buffet with me! But if I'm going to blow my calorie budget, it's going to be on something really good that I can't get on any street corner in America.

    To each his or her own, of course. :-)

  11. Ha, Crabby -- I do the same thing as you. Sometimes hubby and I will grab a bite at McDonald's, but I will get a hamburger with a diet drink and no fries. Although sometimes I can't resist the temptation of a fish sandwich covered with ooey gooey tartar sauce... ;-D

  12. I haven't eaten fast food in YEARS....and I don't plan on starting again anytime soon. Yes, I do often look enviously at people who happily chow down on a delicious looking burger, but I tell myself "Nothing tastes as good as being thin"....(well, not unless you're talking chocolate and candy..hahaha). But, saying that, I don't think that it doesn't have its time and place, and there's noting wrong with eating it on a healthy diet, if you're smart about it. Which Crabby obviously does and gives great advice on. :)

    Oh, and for the record. I agree. The King has better burgers. :3

  13. Yes, I am appalled, Crabby. But I acknowledge that you are the pilot of your own destiny. I would never ask you to replace junk food with the farro and fava beans that typify my enviable diet.

    It's true, I haven't darkened the door of a fast-food joint with my judgemental shadow for decades. Well, I did eat at a Denny's on a cross-country trip in 1993, when I was stuck in a blizzard outside St. Louis. All the chemical additives are one deterrent. The poor nutrition is another; and I lack the capacity to accessorize a visit to McDonalds (too much trouble). Also, I tend to patronize stand-alone places or small local franchises instead of supporting mega-corporations like McDonald's and Starbucks. And there's the fact that I don't eat anything that had hooves. I originally made this decision on the basis that beef is fatty, may have hormones, and the land needed to raise cattle is enormous in comparison to the yield -- land that could be used for more productive crops or even for housing (environmentally green, we hope).

    I like the Slow Food movement that came out of Italy -- simple, fresh food, prepared fresh, eaten with friends. Sure, that isn't always possible. I guess when you're on a road trip, the options are severely limited. So keep packing those apples, Crabby. I highly approve of apples!

  14. Well, I was dribbling onto the keyboard as I read your post, Crabby, but somehow Appleton managed to stop the saliva flow. I think I'll go and eat an apple!

  15. Hi Musical Mushroom
    (What a great name!)
    Oh man, I forgot about those hash browns. So junky, yet tasty and greasy and crunchy. I can totally resist french fries but have been known to cave on the hashbrowns. But even once or twice a year and I feel sort of dirty afterwards.

    Hi Samantha!
    Now I wouldn't have suspected you were even an occasional visitor to the Golden Arches--you make me feel much better about my sins!

    Very sensible Jennifer! I wish I didn't find it the least bit tempting. Good thing especially that you're not feeding it to your son all the time like so many parents do.

    Hi Lady Rose!
    Yes, Sauce-Scraping is a very valuable fast food survival technique! And you're right, it's all about balance.

    Be back in a minute for more...

  16. Ugh, I hate McDonald's! (Which is not to say that I don't love a good cheeseburger!) I actually survived a recent family road trip without having to eat at Mackey D's once. (But, my mother is a touting the Southwest Chicken salad right now.) Better than an egg mcmuffin, a breakfast jack (no meat) with a chocolate milkshake. Mmmmm...Please don't come back with the calories on that one.

  17. Hi Kery,
    I'm lucky in not having any friends drag me there--I have only myself to blame. (Well, we blame road trips, as though someone makes us go on them). Sounds like you manage a great compromise between being social and being healthy.

    Hi bunnygirl,
    I frankly would have been pretty shocked had you piped up with "I go to McD's all the time!" And I agree, Indian food is a way better splurge than fast food. For us, it's only a road trip thing, where Indian food is harder to come by.

    Hi Thomma Lyn!
    Glad to know someone as sensible as you makes a similar sort of compromise. I just can NOT order a damn salad there, even though it might be healthier.

    And way to go Sera--Fast food renouncement really is the smart thing to do.

    Appleton, I love that you can remember the exact date and circumstances of your last fast food meal! (And that it was in a blizzard and was a Denny's which barely even counts. You're right, of course, about all your objections. Yet I will continue to pilot my destiny into McDonald's at least a few times a year, hoping it doesn't kill me.

    Hi Dawn!
    Well, Appleton is an awfully good influence. Yet please don't let him get his hands on your cream-filled apple doughnuts. Some things are sacred.

  18. Hi Norabarnacle and welcome!

    Sorry I missed you last time 'round.

    I won't tell you how many calories the chocolate milkshake has, other than it's a number you don't want to know. Glad you were able to avoid the place entirely!

  19. Crabby,

    Hi ! Saw your Blog from my other Bogger Shrinking Newbie....

    The worst culprit from McDonalds is the Deluxe Breakfast with Biscuit which has 1380 Calories and a whopping 67 Grams of fat... Yucko....

    I crave it sometimes but I'm in Contest training Mode... So none of that for me..


  20. Order what you like.
    Eat half (or less).

  21. Fast food is my Achilles.

    Okay, and beer, and steak, and jsut about everything else I eat, but I'm trying to do better.

  22. Sorry, Crabby, but I won't support McDonalds. If enough people would just stay out of them, they will go away and it will be one small step in the right direction for a change.

  23. Hi Jordan!
    Wow, peeked at your bodybuilder/ironman blog--I am so impressed with people who can put that much hard work and effort into training. I'm of the slacky persuasion myself, just enough exerise to stay healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

    Anonymous--half is a great idea. And having a companion to split things with works well if one can arrange it.

    Hey travis, I hear you. I have yet to meet a brussel sprout that tasted as good as a steak.

    And Dr J, hi!
    I know, they're terrible. But every now and then I need my Egg McMuffin, what can I say. Sorry!

  24. three years now with no fast food and 2 years as a vegetarian. I thought I'd miss McDonald's but I don't. Oddly enough, the only thing I miss is Taco Bell. How's that for healthy? :)


  25. Sure, I go to McDonalds if I feel like camping out on the toilet for a few days. That sh!t does a number on my system.

  26. I would do the "halfsies" thing more often at restaurants if I had someone who was willing to eat the other half. :/

    As for McD's, I've never liked anything of theirs except their milkshakes. And I like those a lot less now that I know how many calories they're worth. :p

  27. Hi gal, goinggone & chicken girl!

    You folks are lucky, i think, to either not like it or not be able to physically process it. It's one of those yucky temptations you don't feel too proud to succumb to.

    There's something more noble, I think, in blowing a bunch of calories at a really nice restaurant.

    (Or in not blowing them at all, I suppose!)

  28. Ah. McD's. We don't go for fast food very often and when we do we usually try to support local burger joints (and the food just tastes SO MUCH BETTER). But one time awhile ago on a McDonald's run I thought I'd try the new chicken strips. They looked more real than the famed nuggets. However, (I'm embarrassed to say) after trying them, I found myself wanting the 38 ingredient-synthetic-who-knows-what's-here nuggets. Shameful, I know. I guess I just developed a taste for them as a youngin. So, I don't mind so much that my kids don't really even like McDonald's (fries being the exception), I'm hoping I don't pass on my "taste" for it.

    (oh, and "holy bazillion comments Batman!")

  29. Oh, and Crabby, it seems like a lot of times I come comment, I'm last. or at least first after a number of people have commented and you've come back and reponded to all. I always feel a little bad for making you come back! So don't- (If you don't want to)!


  30. Too late, Katieo, I'm already here! (But thanks!)

    And the only reason I get more comments now is that you taught a bunch of people how to do it. Seriously, my sitemeter addiction revealed a large number of outclicks on your very helpful "how to comment" post.

    I am starting to get a bit more sloppy about combining follow up comments, hope that's not bugging people. 'Cause I love everyone's comments!

  31. I think the important thing about McDonald's (or any fast food) is to be in "eat it less" mode. If you used to eat it 5x week, get down to 1x/wk and congratulate yourself for doing better. (Ok, I know I was extreme in my example!) We eat McD lots less than we used to, but it was important to me that my kids understand that they need to learn moderation and portion control. Shoving carrots at them and saying no more McD ever again just wasn't the right thing to do.

    Oh, and my fav, QP w/chz and stolen french fries out of my husbands order.

  32. Actually....what's interesting is that Mcd's isn't as bad as people think it is. If you compare it to other fast food restaurants that is. A Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich from Potbelly's has 646 calories and 44 grams of fat! A Tomato Basil and Mozzarella sandwich from Cosi's has 729 calories and 42 grams of fat! People need to stop focusing in on McD's. It's a fast food restaurant. If you think that eating a hamburger is supposed to be healthy - there's something wrong there. The bigger issue is these other places, where you think you're eating healthy when you're not. If you want to control your calories eat at home. Otherwise, stop complaining, it's not their job to control your health.

  33. Hi Holly,
    Great advice on the 'cut down' rather than all/nothing. I almost wonder if some kids who are never allowed access to junky food/tv/whatever aren't getting a chance to learn set limits for guilty pleasures.

    (And stolen french fries taste way better than those you order yourself).

    Hi anonyomous,
    Excellent point about a lot of other places being worse nutritionally, and sneakier about it as well.

    However, complaining is pretty much the whole point of Cranky Fitness, so it's unlikely the whining is going to stop anytime soon. Thanks for stopping by!

  34. MY HUSBAND RUNS A MCDONALDS. Ugh. I tend to order the grilled chicken salad, only using half the dressing. My strategy, if I must have a Big Mac, is to ask him to bring one home, where I will commence to eat half of it and give the other half to the dog. Then at least two members of the household are happy. Speaking of appalling McD calories, have you smelled, tasted or touched the new cinnimon bun thing? Holy crap, you'll ingest calories just by looking at it. My hubby brought one of those home the other day, heated it up in the microwave, and I just had to leave. Evil. EEEvil.

  35. Oh, and for all the McDonald's haters out there- I think all big corporate fast food chains have responded well to America's health movement. Most of these corporations spend a lot of money on good causes, and yes, even though they also spend a lot of money on advertsing and who knows what else, they are never going to go away- just like people aren't going to quit driving their cars so gas prices will go down. So eat there or don't- there will still be one on every corner.

  36. Thanks, In Between!
    I like the dog split idea. And I can smell the cinnamon bun thing from here, I think.

    sniff, sniff... yep, smells like evil smeared with butter & cinnamon...

  37. My husband and I try to stick to the Wendy's or a Subway...choice of a salad, potato or yogurt and granola at Wendys as a side or as a larger meal...or a sandwich.
    I've never had a taste for McDonalds - just too tasteless, altho Burger King - I still crave whoppers late at night...I just don't have them very often anymore. And KFC? Way to greasy now.

    I shuddered last I was in a mall food court waiting for my Edo stirfry (yum) and a large 10 year old was ordering a double quarter pounder with cheese combo for lunch - upsized. And she ate it all...and her Mom let her. Fast food in moderation is OK - that was way overboard.

  38. Hi geosomin!
    Wow, that story with the ten year old is awful! Almost seems like child neglect. (And I hear in the UK or somewhere there's even a move to think about removing kids from families for this sort of thing).

  39. I just found your blog and love it! Loving the articles, especially this one about McDonalds. Keep up the great work!

  40. Thanks lyregal!

    Looks like you've got a great blog going too. (Although Extreme Boot Camp...(shudder...))


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