McDonalds as a Post Meal

McDonaldssportsMost parents with active children will know what it is like. After a long day at sports, the last thing you want to do is go home and cook. There must be a McDonalds on the way home, right? And they have those healthy options, don’t they?

Whether its training for footy, or playing a backyard game of cricket, children’s athletic performance, development and growth depend largely on what they are eating. It is unfortunate though that most children and adults forget just how important nutrition is to good health and athletic performance.

As you have read in the previous pages, there are many different, healthier options for meals, snack and drinks on game day. The best way to avoid temptation is to have a meal already prepared at home, or at least have the ingredients to quickly whip one up while showers and changing clothes is happening. This can be easily achieved by cooking the meal the night before, or purchasing the ingredients so you don’t ‘waste’ them by buying fast food.

Realistically, fast food like McDonalds is down-right damaging to your family’s health. The ‘fast’ aspect of this junk food can be luring to those who are time-poor.

Though many fastfood chains are expanding their menus to include ‘healthier’ options, the bad news is that a large share of the menu choices are still high in fat and calories. Old favourites like “Big Mac’s” and “French Fries” are laden with calories, salt, fat and saturated fat. Unless your child is very well trained, they would still rather a cheeseburger and fries over a garden salad, apple slices and water.

In addition, many fast food portions are getting larger in an effort to lure away customers from competing restaurants. And as the portion sizes increase, so do the amount of calories and fat.

Bigger portions of high-calorie foods present more challenges than weight-control alone. After exercise, eating higher-fat foods without adequate carbohydrates can delay muscle glycogen resynthesis (where muscle glycogen stores are converted and replenished). Eating high-fat foods before competition can lead to a feeling of heaviness, sluggishness, or even digestive upset.

Further, fast foods tend to be extremely high in sodium, which can impact heavily on athletic performance. Often, one burger or a serve of fries can contain up to 3 times the daily recommended sodium intake! Too much sodium can promote dehydration, cause nausea, and increase fluid requirements.

And with your burger, you have to have coke, right? Apart from the massive amount of sugar in these drinks, you also have an array of artificial flavouring, preservatives, colouring and chemicals. Carbonated drinks also create a false sensation of fullness – someone who washes down a high sodium meal with soft drink may not be drinking enough fluid.

Gimmicky meals like ‘Happy Meals’ are also made more attractive to children with the inclusion of a fun toy. Though there is now ‘healthier’ choices, like the inclusion of apple slices and pasta shapes – the cheeseburger and salty fries are hard to resist.

You give yourself the best chance of avoiding a screaming, angry child by staying away from fast food restaurants. However, this is all well and good when it is just you, and your children at home, but how about footy trips?

For teams on tight schedules and children on the go, fast food offers convenience, quick service and lower prices than traditional restaurants. The end of season ‘trip to Macca’s’ is fine when it is on occasion, but when your children are away it is hard to monitor what they are eating.

Encourage your team management to stay away from fast food places, or to ensure that they are ordering the healthier options for your children. There are many healthier places to eat, without adding too much cost to the trip.

If you, and your football teams’ coaches and other parents are informed and prepared, you can achieve better health and better habits quite easily.

The end line? Avoid temptation. Stay away from McDonalds.