Previous Post Next Post


Brought to you by

The Fast Food Dilemma: Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Drive-Thru Diet

By Meghan Gesswein |

It’s an internal battle that constantly rages…whether to hit a fast food joint or not. My knowledge that it’s not a healthy option is constantly pitted against my love for giant unsweetened iced tea and the ease with which I can feed my kids.

And, honestly, I give in and hit the drive-thru more than I’d like. Because it’s easy and because it makes my kids happy. But  mostly because it’s easy.

I love that apples or other fruit are, at the very least, an option at most fast food joints these days. My 4-year-old often chooses them over french fries. And when they come with the french fries, he’s a very happy camper. We usually forgo the soda and opt for milk instead, and if we’re really adventurous, we might even get chocolate milk.

Because we don’t eat fast food that often, and because we usually choose the “healthier” offerings when we do, I don’t let my mommy guilt bubble over when we hit the drive-thru.

But then, I read articles about what exactly my kids are eating when they have a burger and I consider never ever visiting a fast food establishment again.

It was recently reported that McDonalds, Burger King and Taco Bell will be removing “ammoniated beef” from their ingredients list. In case you’re wondering, ammoniated beef, also lovingly referred to as “Pink Slime,” is a filler made from non-edible fatty beef parts that have been treated with ammonia and water, thus killing bacteria and making them safe to eat.

Essentially, my kids have been eating beef parts that are only fit for human consumption because they have been pumped full of ammonia.

I gagged a little bit just typing that out.

It makes me wonder what else is in those foods that I don’t know about.

Yes, I know that fast food isn’t the best or healthiest option, and that’s why we choose to eat it sparingly. But there are times where it is, essentially, the only option, and there are times where it is, by far, the most convenient option.

So what’s a girl to do?

Where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you hit the drive-thru on a regular basis, have you banned it from your lives completely, or are you like me and get fast food on occasion, when the circumstances present themselves?

Read more from Meghan on MeghanGWine and From Demo to Dream

Follow Meghan on Facebook and Twitter.
Follow Babble Kids on Facebook and Twitter

More from Babble:

An Open Letter to McDonalds

Mom Confession: I’m a Junk Food Junkie

I beg my kid to eat french fries

Supersize Me: How living with kids sold me on fast food

More on Babble

About Meghan Gesswein


Meghan Gesswein

Meghan Gesswein is a stay at home mom to three boys. Most of the time. Meghan is extremely active online, and writes for the ever growing mom blog, Meghan GWine. She was a regular contributor to the Parenting channels on Babble.

« Go back to Kid

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Comments, together with personal information accompanying them, may be used on and other Babble media platforms. Learn More.

9 thoughts on “The Fast Food Dilemma: Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Drive-Thru Diet

  1. We don’t do fast food unless I’m in a pinch on a road trip. My seven-year-old was just introduced to CFA for the first time, not by me, recently.

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 14 years so fast food joints don’t offer much for me. We usually seek out Panara insted, and pack snacks ahead of time.

  2. SJP says:

    I wouldn’t say we’ve “banned it”, but my kids have officially never had the drive thru food you are referring to (McD, BK, TB, etc). My oldest is 7.5. The one and only time they have been in McDonalds was for ice cream on a road trip. We eat most of our meals at home. If we do eat out with them it’s to healthier options like Jason’s Deli, Subway, Chipotle, Panera, the cafe at the gym we all belong to… even those are rare treats. We just don’t like typical fast food ourselves and so since we don’t eat it; they don’t eat it. Actually they probably won’t eat it. I assure you if you put chicken nuggest or a burger in front of my kids they would refuse to even taste them. It’s just not what they are used to eating.

  3. Rachel says:

    (fyi I re-read this and it sounds a little holy-ier than thou than I meant it too. I am not judging) I was raised without the drive through when we were little. On a regular night my mom never went to McDonalds. That is not to say we always had 5 star well balanced meals. But fast food wasn’t on her list of quick things to serve us. Partially because she doesn’t eat it, and if she couldn’t get herself something to eat, then we were not eating there either. Fast food was a road trip place. Some where we ate when we couldn’t get home for a meal unexpectedly. But my mom is also a teacher, and didn’t work long hours, and she had in home help to watch me and my sisters. So she was home by 3 every day, giving her enough time to put together dinner. My friends always joked that the only time they ever felt forced to eat vegetables was at my house. They were on the table every night, a required part of every meal.

  4. AmyRyb says:

    I think everything in moderation. I ate some fast food as a kid–not often but once in a while–and I’m fine. Is it ideal? No. But sometimes you just need a quick, cheap, low-stress option. The less you do it, the more it becomes a treat. I don’t think it’s something to beat yourself up about if it’s something you do as a periodic treat or a short-on-time thing. And as long as the rest of what you feed them is healthy-ish (to the point that the average kid will eat healthy) and they’re of average weight and health, I think it’s ok. If it’s more than once or twice a week (and more on the McD’s side than the Subway side), then it might be time to rethink or choose better.

  5. lam says:

    My kids have never eaten at a fast food restaurant in 7.5 years of parenting. I read about all the disgusting crap they make it out of and add to it and the hideous condition of the animals they make it from and I never ate it again. When I had children, I knew I’d never feed that stuff to them. The junkiest thing they eat is french fries at our local pizza place. Even that is a high stress option for me. It’s so crappy! There’s no nutrition in french fries. Plus it’s full of junk to make them crave more salt, fat, and sugar. I feel bad if I haven’t planned adequately to feed them a square meal. I carry a lot of non-perishable snacks in my car.

  6. Cara says:

    I’m a full time student as well as owning my own business. My boyfriend works 50ish hours a week. We chose to work our schedules around each other to make sure that our daughter does not have to go to day care and that we have family time. We make sure that we have one family meal a day. That being said, we do indulge in fast food a bit more than we should. A lot of the time it comes down to family time or “Mommy in the kitchen cooking”-time and we opt out for family time. It is not always fast food, we love take and bake pizzas and a little soup place that delivers and has amazing gyros, but we sometimes give into our cravings for salty french fries. It does not make me feel like a bad parent at all. My daughter has everything she needs, she gets read to every night, she is healthy, and she is basically a happy little girl. I’m proud to say that she loves beans, tomatoes, and cutie oranges. And, if you gave her a choice, I’m pretty sure she would almost always pick a home cooked meal over going out.

  7. DeAnna says:

    So I might be the only “bad mom” here. My son LOVES chicken nuggets and frenchfries, just not the ones we can make at home. He recognizes the golden arches and gets psyched. We enjoy Pizza deliveries, and Chinese take-out. We don’t go often, but we do go a couple (4-6) times a month because its easy, its convenient, its not something I have to fight him to eat. He is 20months, in the 25th percentile for weight, and 50th for height. He is SUPER healthy and a wonderfully active little guy. I don’t feel guilty when I do drive-thru, or when the delivery guys KNOW us by name, I feel blessed that I can have that kind of option. I feel blessed that I can feed my child the way we do. Heck, my husband and myself ENJOY the freedom of choices and one of those freedoms is eating Chicken nuggets, french fries and a Large Coke (no ice), whenever we need that kind of “fix”. It just TASTES good!
    We have our fair share of veggies and fruit and health food at home. But its a nice change of pace to be able to have a quick option. We frequent the Local Farmers Market EVERY WEEK in the late-spring to early-fall. I am lucky enough to be able to own my own business and work from home, so I do make-ahead meals, and always stock them up on the veggies (hidden “bad-tasting, toddler-unfriendly” veggies like spinach and anything good for you)
    Does that make me a “terrible mom”? According to the majority of the readers that have commented and the author of this article, the answer is YES. And thats just not fair.

  8. Katrina says:

    We don’t do drive thrus all that often, but if we do it’s Jack in the Box or Taco Bell. The kidlet will only eat the grilled chicken strips from JITB and a cheese quesadilla from TB, so I guess that’s better than the other options?! Working full time, her being in preschool and having activities on week nights; sometimes it’s the quickest and easiest option.

  9. Meghan Gesswein says:

    @Deanna – I don’t, at all, think it makes you a terrible mom. If you read back over the posts I’ve written in the past pertaining to food and what kids eat, I’m far from an organic, all health food all the time kinda girl.

    My point in this post was that, yes, fast food is easy and convenient and my kids love it, but when I really sit down and educate myself about what’s in it, I have a hard time stomaching it. Pun totally intended.

    I don’t think it makes anyone a bad parent to feed their kid fast food sometimes (I DO IT, TOO!), and if I did, it’s certainly not something I’d ever say out loud. I’m a HUGE proponent of to each is/her own parenting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Previous Post Next Post