Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Would You Recognize a McNugget Addict?

In case you missed it, there was a story out last week about, Stacey Irvine, a seventeen year-old girl in the UK that collapsed at her factory job.  She was anemic, nutrient deficient, and struggling to breathe.  She also had swollen blood vessels on her tongue.  She revealed that she has been living on a diet of McNugget meals for fifteen years, and she never eats fruits or vegetables.  Now, would you think this girl is a McNugget addict?

Probably not.  If you didn't know that these toys were collected from Happy Meals that she ate, you would probably think she is a normal-looking teenager with a gigantic collection of toys.  But no, this girl loved her some nuggets.

What I don't want to do here is get into any moral arguments blaming the mom or McDonald's.  McDonald's provides a product that people can choose to purchase or not.  The mom is kind of on the hook because she didn't act like the parent.  At the same time, a seventeen year old is old enough to change their mind.  If all of the cool kids stopped wearing purple shirts, most other teens would too.  Where there's a will, there's a way.

What I do want to blog about is my admission that I feed my daughter chicken nuggets, although not McDonald's, a little too frequently.  Yup, I said it.  I need to cut back on the nuggets.  It's just that they are a quick, easy meal for a toddler, and I never get an argument from her about eating them.  So, in an effort to show you what factors led me to the conclusion that I need to change my ways, I am going to take you on a McNugget journey of sorts.  

I think everyone has seen the photo that has been circulating recently (again) of the mechanically separated chicken.  I'm not even going to gross you out with that story.  Anyway, it was recently fact checked, and the photo is supposedly not chicken.  Who cares?  It doesn't take a genius to figure out that McNuggets are bad for you.  What we have done as a culture is to tell our kids that "it doesn't matter" and "it's okay to eat them anyway."  

Check out this clip from Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" TV show.  He has done this experiment before in the UK, and kids always get grossed out and choose the good food.  But here in America, he was not as successful.

If you want to know if McNuggets are bad for you, here is the answer.  Anything that has a majority of its calories derived from fat cannot be good for you.  The sodium is an entirely different issue.

Another problem that the United States has is that we have created a monoculture.  We eat one type of potato because McDonald's sets the standard, and so farmers spend millions of dollars on chemicals and pesticides in order to grow that particular potato instead of rotating species and finding new varieties like they do in South America.  Anyone else see a problem here?  I don't want to digress from my point, but these two facts work hand in hand.  We embrace monoculture and subsequently brainwash our children into accepting poor nutritional standards because we like what we like.  

As it turns out, I have had an alternative solution to my nugget problem all along.  I have a cook book that my mother-in-law gave me called Deceptively Delicious and it has tons of recipes for sneaking veggies into your kids' food.  I have actually made these nuggets before, and they are great.  Why did I not make them again?  Probably because it's easier to open a bag of Tyson's and heat them up in the microwave.  I'm going to get better.  I am going to make large batches of these nuggets ahead of time and then freeze them so that they are just as convenient as the ones that are currently in my freezer.  I am challenging you to consider doing the same.  Enjoy your delicious new chicken nugget recipe!  I like them with sweet potato, but spinach is great as well.    

Parenting is the toughest job in the world.  A lot of times, you can do things the easy way and get away with it, but occasionally, when the health of your child is at stake, the only option is to make the tough choice and do things the hard way.  


  1. Hooray!! I'm very proud of you. I agree it's not as easy BUT look at all the great food she will be eating and not even know it! Mrs. Matt Daddy was never allowed to eat McNuggets. The contents freaked me out! Hope other parents take your challenge. Ann

  2. Look, we're never going to get our kids to not eat SOME of the bad stuff. It's like EVERY THING else in life...do it in moderation and you'll be just fine. Let 'em have their McD fix ONCE IN A WHILE and teach them good nutrition and lead by example! Easy! I wish...

  3. More to the point, if you were to eat say, oranges all the time and thats if for 15 years, you would get sick. People tend to be out to get Mcdonalds. All the foods are inspected and approved by USDA. Parents need to be accountable for what they feed. There is nothing wrong to eat at mcdonalds once/twice a week. More importantly, kids and adults need exercise. People love to blame one thing on their bad health. I know people first hand, who eat at MCdonalds three times a week and are skinny, in good health because they exercise and eat different things.

  4. @Ann - Not allowed to eat McNuggets!? No wonder she's grumpy a lot. Just kidding! It's probably a good thing. I try to avoid McNuggets too. There is no identifiable chicken part.

  5. @Bruce - I think that is what I'm going for here. I have not been moderating the frequency with which I feed my daughter nuggets. I don't give her McNuggets at all, but even Tyson's frozen nuggets we eat aren't the best choice. I am going to give these healthier nuggets a try.

  6. @SalvatoreTR - Welcome! Thanks for the comment. I agree with your statement; however, it doesn't take long to read the nutrition labels and find out that "USDA/FDA approved" doesn't mean healthy. I did not let the mom off the hook here. She totally enabled the addiction to McNuggets, and she should have gotten her daughter some help. I merely wanted to discuss the bigger issue, that what we have done as a culture is tell our kids that they can ignore food labels and eat whatever they want. And while I agree that people need to exercise (myself included) you can still run into serious health problems eating McDonald's three times a week - high blood pressure and high cholesterol are silent killers. I appreciate your comments.

  7. I love this post!!! I watched the video and was absolutely astounded. I haven't personally eaten a McNugget in about 20 years, and I don't plan on starting any time soon, but now I don't think I'll even be able to let my kids order them in good conscience on the rare occasions when we do go to McDonald's (which is literally about twice a year...if that).

    I am hoping that all nuggets aren't made this way. I'll have to take a closer look at the ones we buy...I wonder if "chicken fingers" are any better for you. Although, considering chickens don't have fingers, perhaps they're the same deal as the nuggets.

    At any rate, I am DEFINITELY going to make those chicken nuggets from that recipe! Fantastic--thanks for sharing!

    Following you!
    Smiles, Jenn @Misadventures in Motherhood



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