Our McDonald’s Experiment

i'm not lovin' it

To some it may be hard to believe that our 3 kids have no McDonald’s memories.  Our oldest was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she was 2 so she doesn’t ever remember eating there.  We don’t have cable or satellite TV so they don’t see the commercials either.  Since the diagnosis of both my daughter and my husband we never eat there so the kids have no idea what it’s all about.  We have nicknamed the restaurant McGluten’s.  I am aware that they do have a couple of items on their menu that are gluten free but it is things like salad and yogurt.  Ummm, no thanks.   So when I found  myself out doing errands a couple of days after Christmas with my 4 year old (who has never shown any reaction to the limited amount of gluten she has eaten in her life) I decided to do a little experiment.  My daughter was complaining of being hungry.  No problem.  I never leave home without something to eat in my purse.  Well never except for that day.  I had been sick so I guess maybe I wasn’t thinking clearly.  Maybe that was why I took the easiest option and took her to McDonald’s.  Millions of other parents do it so why not?  As we got into line I asked her what she wanted.  She said “What do they have here?”  The guy in front of us looked back at us, laughed and said something about being surprised that she didn’t already know what she wanted.  I told her what the choices were.  I had to explain what a McNugget was.  She finally decided on those with fries and an apple juice.  We took the kid’s meal to the table and sat down.  She was so excited to get her lunch in a colorful box.  She immediately asked if she could take the box home.  You can imagine her reaction when she opened the box to find not only her lunch but a toy.  She shrieked loudly that “Someone put a toy in here!”  The two tables near us giggled over her excitement.  I told them that it was her first time there.  They  looked at me like they couldn’t decide if I was joking or not.   I wondered for a moment if she would now be begging to come back regularly.  Had I just opened a huge Pandora’s box?   Once the excitement of the toy subsided she remembered she was hungry.  She dug in.  She ate a grand total of one and a half nuggets, one taste of the sauce, one solitary french fry and all of her apple juice.  I asked her why she didn’t want to eat anymore and her response was one that made me proud.  She said, “I don’t like it.”   Yay!  Score for REAL FOOD!  Since that day she has asked to go back once.  She wanted another toy but not the food.  

I have said it before and I will say it again.  Celiac disease has been a good thing for our family.  Prior to CD I never once considered what I put in my mouth.  I assumed that all those things that I couldn’t pronounce on the ingredient list were food and were safe and benign.   I loved McDonald’s.  We ate out every day, sometimes more than once a day.  I had absolutely no idea of the close relationship between food and health, both physical and mental health.  While CD does in fact make life far more complicated at times and it certainly would be better not to have it, those are things that I can not change.  I choose to focus on the many positive things that have come of it.

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10 thoughts on “Our McDonald’s Experiment

  1. Love this post! This is very similar to my experience with my 3 youngest kids. My kids have taken to calling it poison which is a bit embarrassing but true for them.

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    • Kind of makes you proud doesn’t it? It amazes me how even very young kids can grasp (when taught) which foods are not good for them. My youngest, though just 2, is very aware that some foods are not for him. I am glad that we got our diagnoses when the kids were so young. It would be a much harder adjustment if they were teens or preteens having grown up with McDonalds and such.

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  2. too funny. I was laughing out loud imagining your daughter gasping at the surprise toy. My son had a similar reaction to a movie on a huge screen tv at costco. They rarely watch tv and so I told the lady next to us, “we don’t really watch tv.” She came back up to me and asked if I was serious. When I replied, ‘yes.” She responded, “really?….good for you!” =0) Good for you Mom for serving your kids “real” food. =0) and not Mcgluten!

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    • Hey, Kelly! Good to hear from you. Those people we enountered in both McDonald’s and Costco must think we are reclusive, commune living hermits. Hehehe, I’m okay with that.

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  3. Hi Kim, My son was diagnosed gluten intolerant just before Thanksgiving. My kids are 14 and 12 and I thought giving up McDonald’s was going to be so hard, but then my daughter did a science fair project on their food and I no longer have any desire to eat there. It’s amazing what a little knowledge can do. (by the way, I’m trying your bread recipe right now. Hopefully I’ll never have to buy another ridiculously priced tiny loaf of Udi’s)

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    • What kind of experiments did your daughter do on McDonalds food? I want to hear about that. I agree about the power of education. I think for a long time I was content to stay uninformed and trust that food makers and the FDA were making decisions in the publics best interest. Then I had to start reading labels and start asking questions. That trust in food manufacturers and the FDA is now completely gone.
      I hope the bread works out for you. Please let me know how it goes. I have mine in the oven right now too!

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      • She didn’t do any experiments herself, just research. The thing that clinched it for me is that it doesn’t decompose. A burger left out for 10 years looks the same as one just bought! Ugh! Real food needs to decompose.
        The bread is a hit! Great texture, and as my husband said “hunh, it tastes like bread.” The only thing I’ll try differently next time is the teff flour. My local store only had the brown rice flour and it definitely had the ricey taste.

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      • Yay! I am do happy to hear the bread turned out for you. I’ve never even made it with rice flour. I hate rice bread. The teff is great. Our favorite combination is teff and millet.

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  4. Love this, Kim!

    Same here: Prior to being diagnosed, I took the kids there once a week. Heck, I even worked at McDonald’s when I was in high school! But, very similar to you, the more I learn about real food, the less enamored I am. I do still run through the drive through once every other week or so to get a Diet Coke (bad, really…. I wish there was a place where I could get Hansen’s on the road!), but that’s about it. I won’t even let my gluten-eating older boys eat there any more, once I found out about how McDonald’s is a major buyer of ammonia-treated beef. (Did you read about that when I posted it? Low-quality, high-fat cuts of beef are heated slightly to liquefy the fat, then it’s centrifuged to remove the fat. But, it’s still high-fat, and all the processing and fat content makes it more prone to spoilage, so they TREAT IT WITH AMMONIA to sterilize the “fresh” meat. They then have to pH test it to make sure it’s not harmful, but still, it’s way more alkaline than real, normal beef. The three biggest purchasers of ammonia-treated beef are McDonald’s, Burger King, and school lunch programs. In’N’Out, by the way, has their own ranches and “processing” facilities, and has the highest quality beef in the fast-food industry.)

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    • I did not know that about McDonalds before I read it on your blog. That is gross gross gross. Very good to know about In’N’Out Burger. That is the only fast food place we eat at. So sad that that is the meat that is served at schools. Just another reason I am grateful for celiac disease. My kids will never eat at a school cafeteria.

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