McDonalds Nutrition Network – Healthy Menu Options And Community Initiatives

When my oldest son, now 16, was young, he could spot a McDonalds from a good mile away. On a cloudy day. In the dark. On an unfamiliar highway in another state. No kidding. He knew what those arches meant – french fries! If there’s one thing that my whole family agrees ton, it’s that when it comes to fast food fries, McDonalds has the best ones hands down. We go to McDonalds less now, mostly because my youngest is supposed to have a gluten-free diet and McDonalds doesn’t have anything for him. But there are still times when we’ll do the drive-thru for something to drink, or if it’s just me and my oldest. It’s my hope that someday all restaurants (not just McDonalds) will offer something for those that eat gluten-free but until then I just choose the times I go accordingly and keep up on what they’ve got going on. Recently I was invited to a media event in New York City, where they announced the new McDonalds Nutrition Network.

Leading the event was Tonya Zuckerbrat, a well known dietician. One of the first things she told the group, a reminder for me actually, is that Happy Meals now have a smaller sized french fries (previously 2.2 ounce and now 1.1 ounce) and have beverage options including chocolate milk. All Happy Meals now come with apples, where it previously was a choice.  These changes are being made with good reason. Children now are becoming expected to have a shorter lifespan then their parents. Children are being diagnosed with adult onset diabetes long before they reach adulthood. For those times that you’re on the road or stopping for a treat, McDonalds is trying to offer viable economical and convenient options for those keeping health in mind.

Mcdonalds Nutrition Network

The breakfast we were served consisted of an Egg McMuffin, coffee and yogurt parfait. McDonald’s Egg McMuffins are made with fresh whole eggs, eggs that are checked and shipped within 24 hours of being laid. I did not know that! The yogurt parfait contains calcium, protein and fiber. The parfait are made fresh every morning at each location, something else I did not know. If you need a parfait without fruit you can make a special request for that at the counter. The whole meal is a total of only 480 calories, with 300 of that being from the Egg Mcmuffin. That’s not bad, for all that food!

Mcdonalds Nutrition Network

The lunch we were served consisted of a hamburger, side salad, fruit and walnut snack, and a diet Coke. The hamburger has 250 calories ans 12 grams of protein. The fruit and walnut snack has 210 calories. While I was eating a part of my burger, someone asked about pink slime. Pink slime has been in the news a lot lately, I was very happy to learn that McDonalds uses no pink slime and no fillers.

Mcdonalds Nutrition Network

Snack time! Tonya said that the ideal afternoon snack is between 200-300 calories. The afternoon snack we were offered was a Berry Smoothie and a Snack Wrap. The Berry Smoothie was cold and delicious, I really enjoyed it! Or in other words, I was lovin it! The Berry Smoothie has 4 grams of fiber and is valued at 120% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. I didn’t try the wrap. Hey, I was full! The wrap has 16 grams of protein and 270 calories.

Mcdonalds Nutrition Network

The dinner we were served consisted of a Premium Southwest Salad with Chicken and water. The salad is only 180 calories and 10 grams of fiber, and is the equivalent of a whopping three servings of vegetables! The reason the salad is suggested as a dinner and not a lunch or snack is because it’s better to eat your carbs during the day when you can burn them off, and eat just proteins and vegetables at night. I didn’t eat mine because I was completely stuffed by that point, so I brought it home for hubby who enjoyed it very much. Dinner also came with a soft chocolate chip cookie, which was really good. (Which is why you don’t see it in the picture, I couldn’t contain myself and ate it before I thought to take the picture. My friend Mitch had a different problem, his just disappeared! I wonder where they went…)

Mcdonalds Nutrition Network

Part of the point behind rolling out these new offerings and revised meals is that McDonalds is trying to show that they are committed to food quality and nutritional well being.

Three tips Tonya shared for eating healthier.

  1. Have protein at every meal.
  2. Reduce sodium intake. Too much sodium is bad for you. Drink water to flush retained water
  3. Add fresh fruits to your snacks and meals.

Answers to five food specific questions you might also have.

  1. McDonalds no longer uses transfats.
  2. McDonalds fries are fried in canola oil so they are peanut free.
  3. McDonalds fries and hamburgers are available without added salt upon request.
  4. McDonalds chicken nuggets are all white meat.
  5. McDonalds doesn’t use added colors or flavors, with the exception of in the Maple Oatmeal.

Every McDonalds should have nutritional content available, and you can also find the nutritional content of all items on the McDonalds website.

While at the event, we also learned about the McDonalds Nutrition Network, and the grants it will be awarding to fund community nutrition programs. Five grants of $5,000, funded by McDonald’s, will go to neighborhood organizations. I can’t explain all of the details, so I’m pasting the info on it here.


ROSELAND, N.J., March 27, 2012 – McDonald’s New York Tri-State area restaurants today launched the McDonald’s New York Metro Nutrition Network, a new community outreach initiative to provide funds to local organizations for grassroots nutrition programs. Through the program, New York Tri-State McDonald’s restaurant owners are offering seed money to help local organizations bring nutrition information and guidance to the communities they serve. This initiative is an extension of McDonald’s national commitment to offer improved nutrition choices.

In addition to providing seed funding to community organizations, McDonald’s will host a series of offline MeetUps throughout the Tri-State area where registered dietitians can engage directly with families and individuals seeking nutrition information.

“As local business owners, we are committed to giving back to the communities we serve and this program helps us bring McDonald’s nutrition commitments to our customers,” said Anthony Scari, president of the McDonald’s New York Tri-State Owner/Operators Association. “We look forward to celebrating those organizations whose projects help people make informed food choices.”

The McDonald’s “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choice” initiative strives to help customers make nutrition-minded choices. For example, McDonald’s new Happy Meal® includes both fruit (about ¼ cup apple slices) and a new smaller size French Fries (1.1 ounces). In support of the new Happy Meal, McDonald’s has launched McDonald’s Happy Meal Chefs Program, which gives parents and kids ages 8-11 the opportunity to collaborate with McDonald’s own Executive Chef Dan to create new nutrition-minded Happy Meal choices.

“I salute McDonald’s for expanding and improving its nutritionally-balanced menu choices and now for bringing nutritional guidance and information to the local community through this program. As a nutrition and diet expert, I know that improved well-being begins with incremental change, and I’m very excited to be part of this campaign to make nutritional information accessible to all,” said Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, author of the best-selling The F Factor Diet.

McDonald’s New York Metro Nutrition Network applications will be evaluated based on the impact of the proposed program on nutrition awareness in the community. This year, five organizations will be selected and each winning organization will be acknowledged with a presentation in their community. Tri-State area non-profit organizations can obtain an application at Completed applications should be mailed to: McDonald’s Owners/Operators Association; Attention: McDonald’s New York Metro Nutrition Network; PO Box 280; Little Falls, NJ 07424. The submission deadline is June 1, 2012.


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I will be compensated by The Motherhood for attending the McDonald’s Nutrition Network press event. This post is based on the views and opinions of my family and/or myself; others may have a different opinion. Please note that the personal opinions reflected in this post have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

About the Author

I’m a Jersey girl, I was born and raised here and have lived here for almost my entire life. I’m a mom of 2 boys – TJ, a 21 year old, and CJ, an 18 year old with Down Syndrome. I am the oldest of four children. I am also a social media enthusiast, cat person, and Down syndrome advocate. I love coffee and milkshakes. My favorite dessert is cheesecake. I love rock music, tech, travel and food. And cheesecake. I HATE the misuse of the word retarded. I take it personally and find it very offensive. Did I mention that I love cheesecake?

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