What Could a San Francisco McDonald's Happy Meal Look Like?

McDonald's Happy MealSo what could a McDonald's Happy Meal look like under San Francisco's proposed nutritional rules?

If the fast food giant wants to be able to continue to put toys in its Happy Meals in that city, it may want to look at the menu suggestions posed by the online diet site CalorieLab.
San Francisco's proposed law would ban toys and other promotional products from children's meals -- including Happy Meals -- unless certain guidelines were met that limit calories, sugar, salt and fat in the meals. The city's Mayor Gavin Newsom last week vetoed the measure aimed at curbing childhood obesity, but San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has enough votes to override the veto. The board hasn't scheduled an override vote yet.

McDonald's has vehemently opposed San Francisco's meal rules -- pointing out that most of the meals eaten by children in any given month are at home, not restaurants.

The whole fracas piqued the curiosity of the CalorieLab folks, so they enlisted the help of New York food writer, mom and dietitian, Susan McQuillan, to cook up meals that not only meet the San Francisco rules, but that kids would want to eat.

Her solutions are three meals: a cheeseburger meal featuring a turkey burger on pita bread with steamed broccoli, baked French fries, sliced apples and milk, apple juice or water; a fish and chips meal with fish coated in crushed potato chips, steamed green beans and salsa dip, baked fries, sliced mango and drink; and pretzel-coated chicken nuggets, carrot and sweet peppers with dip, baked fries, pineapple cubes and drink.

McQuillan suggested replacing high-salt condiments with lower-salt versions and to get rid of the fried food and soda.

McDonald's has previously said that it offers healthier food like sliced apples for parents to choose in their child's Happy Meal. McDonald's officials couldn't be reached for comment on CalorieLab's menu suggestions.

To help parent make wise food choices and teach their children good nutrition, KidsHealth gave the following 10 tips:
  • Parents control the food and decide which foods to keep in the house.
  • Let the children choose what they will eat or if they eat.
  • Don't make them eat everything on the plate.
  • Develop their food preferences young.
  • Let them try different foods when eating out instead of ordering from the kids' menu.
  • Teach them that drink calories add up and hamper good nutrition.
  • Occasional sweets are OK, but don't make dessert the "prize" for eating a meal.
  • Don't use food to show affection.
  • Parents need to eat healthy too as role models.
  • Limit TV and computer time and encourage activity.

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