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Is fast food a bad parenting choice?

British teen Stacey Irvine recently fell ill after a steady diet of little more than McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. Who is to blame for her poor nutritional choices? And does relying fast food, even in moderation, really make you a bad parent?

McDonald's Chicken nuggets

17-year-old Stacey Irvine, who hails from Birmingham, UK, collapsed recently and was rushed to the hospital. There, doctors discovered that she was anemic and severely deficient in several vitamins due to a diet that consists mainly of Chicken McNuggets from McDonald’s. The teen claims to eat only the fast food treats and little else, and has been doing so since the age of two.

Drastic impact on health

With no fresh fruits or vegetables on her daily menu, Stacey lacks vital nutrients that a child’s body needs to grow. The chicken nuggets pack a very solid junk-food punch with the sky-high sodium and fat contained in the mishmash of chicken parts, trans fats and other undesirable ingredients that form a chicken nugget.

Her mother let her try a nugget at age two and soon gave up trying to get her to eat other food. Stacey has been subsisting on chicken nuggets for the better part of 15 years and despite warnings from her mother and medical professionals, has not been keen on changing her eating habits. After this episode, however, she is considering that it may be the cause of her poor health.

Learn how to make healthy chicken nuggets (at home!) >>

Fast food: A do or a don’t?

Stacey’s story is a good example of the effects of poor nutrition, and it highlights the deep responsibility we, as parents, have. Fast food consumption is a controversial topic, but it’s also one that has no easy answers. We talked with several mothers about how they felt about eating fast food and got a wide variety of answers.

They enjoy it

Some moms, like Nicole from Iowa, have no problem with a weekly kid’s meal from a fast food joint. “We go once a week to McDonald’s,” she shared. “It’s our Thursday ritual to go to rhyme time at the library then to the play place at McDonald’s. When the weather warms up, we will go less often because we can play in the park.”

There are better choices

There are healthier choices parents can make for their kids when they go out to eat. Even traditional fast food restaurants now offer fruit, milk and juice choices when ordering off the kid’s menu. However, many moms opt for better restaurants altogether. “We only go to a local chain that has hormone-free meats that also offers seasonal items that support local growers,” explained Rebecca, mom of three.

It’s a matter of convenience

Busy families and easy options are the reasons most moms gave us for eating out. Christy from Kentucky said, “Convenience of it all is why we go out, with three kids, two of them teens in sports that they practice or play five days a week.” And Shelly, mother of two, realizes how deceptively easy fast food really is. “What bothers me is that I can feed myself and 2 kids for $4 if we don’t get drinks,” she reported. “It’s easy to understand why so many people will eat fast food regularly.”

So, while there are no easy answers, we as parents can definitely make better choices when ordering for our little ones when going out to eat. “We go once or twice each week, sometimes more often,” shared Jolene, mom of three. “Our other meals are healthy & balanced. Everything in moderation is my motto.”

Tell us

How do you feel about fast food? Do you purchase it for your family in moderation? Or not at all? Share in the comments!

More on fast food

Making healthy fast food choices
Fast food — at home!
Fast food calories and fat – It’s enough to keep you at home!

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