The other night I was following a Twitter party falling under the hash tag of #McdChanging. Apparently McDonald’s was sponsoring the party, and they were asking those at the party for suggestions that McDonald’s could implement for its consumers to make their consumer experience better.   There were many ideas,  but probably most prominent of those was the discussion of kids meals and their nutritional value. Most at the party wanted additions of more healthy items to be included in the kid’s meal as kids are attracted to the kid’s meals for the toys. Why not have a salad kid’s meal?  Why not have a grilled chicken with apples kid’s meal?  Those questions and many others were addressed by the McDonald’s team member.

Crazy Saturdays

It was at this point a gentleman whose Twitter ID was @AndyBellati decided to jump in and present his point of view.  His bio on Twitter says the following:

Registered Dietitian with whole-food & plant-centric approach. Into sustainable agriculture. Food policy activist. Love to call out food industry nonsense.

So you can completely imagine what his point of view was (don’t eat at restaurants and cook solely at home.) On a superficial level his point of view is one that pretty much anyone could agree with. I mean who doesn’t want their kids to have the best as far as nutrition is concerned?But unfortunately  for most this idea of Andy’s is just completely impractical. “Why?” you ask. Well the easiest way to explain it is to show you my family’s schedule from this Saturday, which should be noted is not an unusual type of daily schedule for my family, with the exception of Sundays which in fact I do insist that everyone gets to sleep until 9am.

  • 5:45am  Kelly, aka Mom, gets up, fixes herself an oatmeal, and gets dressed to run.
  • 6:15am – 9:45am  Kelly gets picked up by her running carpool, spends 3 hours stretching and running 12 miles, and commuting to and from the running path best suited for long distance running.
  • 8:15 – 9:00am David, aka Dad, and the two children get up, eat a fast breakfast, and leave for the soccer fields.
  • 9:45am – 10:40am Kelly gets home, takes a fast shower, leaves for the 1st of her children’s soccer games stopping at the drug store to pick up some ibuprofen.  (Muscles were stiffening up after 12 mile run but there was no time for more stretching or an ice bath.)  She arrives late to her daughter’s soccer game and misses the first 10 minutes.
  • 9:30am – 12:00pm David, also known as the soccer coach, and the kids are at the soccer fields for warm ups, the first game, and a post game meeting with the parents.
  • 12:00am-12:30pm  Team including David and his daughter stops at a fast food restaurant because they only have 30 minutes before they have to drive to a town an hour away for his daughter’s second soccer game of the day.
  • 12:30pm – 1:00pm  Mom takes her son and his friend to another store to cram in some more Saturday errands between soccer games.
  • 1:00pm – 5:00pm  Dad and daughter go to the town an hour away totaling a 2 hour commute, play another soccer game, and on the way home stop at another store to run another Saturday errand.
  • 1:00pm – 3:30pm Mom and son go to the soccer fields for pre-game warm-ups, the game itself as shown by the awesome iPhone picture above, and post-game talks.  Mom has a massive allergy attack despite taking her usual anti-allergy attack medication from being outside in Oklahoma from 6:30am until 4pm and takes two Benadryl pills.
  • 3:30pm – 4pm Mom takes son home to change his clothes and then drops him off at a birthday party sleep over.
  • 4pm – 7pm  Mom crashes after taking two Benadryl pills, worried as she didn’t have time to finish running her Saturday errands.  She wonders when she’s going to get that task done as being sick puts her behind and the next day’s schedule is full.
  • 5pm – 7pm Dad and daughter clean up after being outside all day, eat dinner out with friends while watching football.
  • 7pm – 10pm Mom gets up, but is still groggy and is still sick with allergies.  Dad gets daughter out of the house to play with a friend so that Mom can rest.
  • 10pm The whole family goes to bed.
  • 11pm -12pm The whole family is woken up by an earthquake. We all watch the earthquake coverage on the news.
  • 12pm  The whole family goes back to bed.


Now I know what many nutritionists would say. Meals could have been prepared the night before. But think about this. My Saturday was pretty similar to Friday which was pretty similar to Thursday which was pretty similar to Wednesday and on and on and on. Many families are like mine and at what point are they supposed to take hours out of their days to grocery shop well, plan, and pre-cook meals with a schedule like that? They can’t.

There is no time.

So when McDonald’s asks what they can do to make life better for their consumers I for one am glad for the help. And to persons who demand perfection from families and offer a non-tolerance attitude towards those of us who are really truly doing pretty great as is I have one piece of advice.

If you want to change the world and make it a better place, take some time to get to know your audience who you seem to want to reach. Step inside of their shoes and try to fully understand the lives that they and most like them live. Until you completely understand that lifestyle, you have no business passing judgment. Furthermore until you completely understand that lifestyle, your advice will always need some work.

Kelly Kinkaid (1006 Posts)

Kelly Kinkaid enjoys writing about such topics as stretching a dollar, personal finance, diet and fitness, and living a life well lived. She spends all of her spare time in her many roles including but not limited to soccer, basketball, swimmer, band, and piano mom, runner and wife. You may contact her via e-mail kellyology(at)gmail(dot)com.

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7 Responses to Good Nutrition and the Average American Family

  1. Tabitha Taylor says:

    I just had to respond to this. I believe it is a person’s choice on what they want to have time to do and not do. You see last year my 8yr old was diagnosed with APD and ADHD instead of putting her on meds like the dr wanted to I decided to try the autism/adhd diet. My hubby (who is a friend of your hubby’s) thought I was nuts. You see I juggle 4 kiddos schedule, run our household and help my hubby with marketing for our remodeling business. Talk about a change: no gluten, no dairy (casien) or soy. It took me a long time to figure things out, but now the benefits of the new diet out way the time it takes me. In fact the benefits are so amazing: my daughter has no asthma anymore at all, no meds for asthma are needed at all, my hubby has lost 40 pds, off his cholesthrol meds, blood pressure has dropped a ton and I personally have no more acid reflux or intestinal issues anymore. The benefits were so great for our family that now I also juggle college (getting a nutrition degree), my own business as a healthy eating coach and the gym 5 days a week. So really it is how you plan and set up your time. I put menu planning on my schedule each week along with grocery shopping. Do we never eat out? Hell yes we do, I am not cooking all the time :). But we only eat out about once a week if that. Also I know how to find more healthy alternatives on menus. Part of why I started my business was to help people like myself who are so busy, but want to have better health and don’t know how to get started. Instead of giving up our nutrition habits; I gave up cleaning the house, LOL.

    • Kelly Kinkaid
      Twitter: Kellyology

      So great what you were able to do for your family. And I agree with your point. You can’t do everything, and you have to pick and choose what is important for you family as there isn’t enough time in the day to do it all.

  2. Deb says:

    Gotta say that I fail as the 1960s mom. Life is just different now, and I’ve stopped even trying to pretend that I’m that mom who cooks tasty, nutritious meals seven days per week. Just ain’t gonna happen. I cook dinner maybe once, maybe twice a week, and from that make single-serving freezer meals. Get ahead a little bit, and we have a freezer full of individual meals that the kids can pick out, nuke, and eat. Works fabulously during the school year, especially when the kids are (a) eating two dinners each per day and (b) when their schedules are so different. The Ray Household schedule looks a lot like yours does. (Well, without the earthquake thing…and replace the allergy attack with “arthritis” or “unmentionable sudden stomach thing.”)

    We haven’t eaten at McDonald’s since Morgan Spurlock’s book (“Don’t Eat This Book”) came out in 2005. We eat out, but generally not fast food if we can help it. I was amused the other day when the kids opted not to eat at Burger King and instead chose Subway. When I offered Burger King, the kids were like, “GAWD MOM, we haven’t eaten at Burger King since…**pause**…..” For schedule reference, it was after school (in Boulder), after an orthodontist appointment (in Lafayette), but before soccer (in Westminster) and TaeKwonDo (in Broomfield). This time of day is often referred to as Dinner #1.

    (Thank God marching band is over…that would mean a third trip into Boulder for a 9:15pm pickup. But wait…State soccer training is about to start, and that’s way over in Golden!)

    Playing Devil’s Advocate (don’t I always?!): If McDonald’s makes it easier and faster and healthier for us busy people and our busy kids, what is the result? Do we take a few extra minutes and go grocery shopping? Do we take that time to eat a meal without preservatives and “nutrients added?” Do we spend a few extra minutes with our kids or spouses? Do we take time for ourselves? Or, does all this corporate “help” from fast food chains, grocery store delis, coffee shops, computer companies, mobile phone companies, and the like just make it easier for us to eat more crap on the go, make it easier to ignore our kids because we’re on on a con-call while waiting in line for happy meals, or make it easier to be eating breakfast in the car while talking on the phone while waiting in the school carpool lane….

    Does this “help” make things better, or does it allow us to multitask even more so than before? Is multitasking as we do a good thing…or not?

    In a previous posting/exchange, we had debated about whether choices or luck determines outcome. Following the logic that your own choices, decisions, and follow-through on those decisions are what provided the life you have, wouldn’t the answer fall not with McDonalds “helping” its consumers, but the consumers taking responsibility for the busy schedules they make for themselves and families?

    You and I should do a “Click and Clack” type blog on family life!


    P.S. I’m allergic to Benedryl. (For real!)

    • Kelly Kinkaid
      Twitter: Kellyology

      You know I never thought I’d be the person taking the side of fast food restaurants who were trying to improve their menu items. Honestly I go to McDonald’s for the fries (that and Smashburger because rosemary on fries? Just so right.) But to answer your question “Following the logic that your own choices, decisions, and follow-through on those decisions are what provided the life you have, wouldn’t the answer fall not with McDonalds “helping” its consumers, but the consumers taking responsibility for the busy schedules they make for themselves and families?”

      Why can’t both exist? Why does one have to negate the other?

      Parents are attempting to make better choices within the confines of the busy schedules that they have created for their families. For example, I don’t cook very often at home as we have made the choice to provide our children when a well-balanced array of activities and academics which take up a lot of time, but we have very strict rules about what the kids are allowed to order at restaurants. When we go to a restaurant that has several options to help my kids follow my nutritional rules for the kids it is a help. And I appreciate anyone who supports the healthy choices I am trying to make for my family. Sure it is not their responsibility to force the healthy menu items down my kids throats, but it is their responsibility to make money and stay in business. I am more likely to spend my money at restaurants that provide the choices on their menus that I require. And in that way parents enforcing healthy eating habits with their children and restaurants providing healthy options can both exist and take some responsibility.

      Though I do have to say I don’t believe I ever said that it was a restaurant’s responsibility to provide healthy items for its consumers. I believe I said that it was as a consumer nice to have.

  3. Kate says:

    I do think it’s worth it to maketime to prepare meals ahead. It doesn’t take that long and it is way healthier and cheaper. But I also think it’s fine to have the occasional fast food meal. So I guess I am in the middle of the debate.

  4. Deb says:

    As always, Kelly, this is an interesting topic!

    You’d said: “Why can’t both exist? Why does one have to negate the other?”

    Because these “healthier choices” may be healthier than a burger and fries, but are they really “healthy?” A lot of times, not so much. Having your burger on a wheat bun? Chances are, it’s only 51% whole grain–that’s the minimum whole grain content for something to be called “whole grain.”

    Having a yogurt with fruit and granola instead of fries? Often, the ingredients list has more chemicals and additives and preservatives and sugars than the item has basic nutritional value.

    Having a packaged cup of mandarin oranges? It has twice the calories, twice the sugars, and half the nutritional value of an actual mandarin orange.

    There was one example–I think it was McDonald’s, come to think of it–about banana shakes or desserts. The food was processed to the point that it had no flavor at all, and instead of adding real banana or even banana flavoring, they added the “smell” of banana, because the sense of smell is so closely related to taste. It’s amazing what they do with chemicals!

    This is a fascinating topic to me–the whole concept of things that make our lives “better” maybe not doing so. I started researching the chemical aspect of nutrition years ago with regard to a health issue, and what I found was eye-opening to say the least. Of all things in my diet (which has ranged from “really crappy” to “pretty good” over the years!), I count sugar grams. Not calories. Not fat. Sugar…which, btw, is what a lot of fries are coated with to help them achieve that nice crispy texture.

    Thanks again for such a thought-provoking post. I’ve been “chewing” on the topic ever since!

    Ack, and now I’m wanting Smashburger fries for lunch. (They are To Die For, aren’t they?!) Maybe I can jog over there…. :-)

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