Our journey on McDonald’s Listening Tour thus far has been an incredibly insightful and exciting experience. This past week, I attended the annual American Dietetic Association’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (ADA FNCE) in San Diego. FNCE is the largest nationwide conference for registered dietitians (RDs), nutrition professionals, food educators and students to learn and share ideas about nutrition and how food impacts our daily lives. It was encouraging to hear my peers share their thoughts about McDonald’s being on the right track and opportunity areas for the company.
Like many at the conference, as a parent and nutrition professional I understand how important it is to guide children toward proper nutrition. Many of the conversations I had centered around McDonald’s new Happy Meal. Similar to the discussion we had with parents at the BlogHer conference earlier this summer about McDonald’s goal to make wholesome foods fun for kids, my conversations at FNCE also showed me that people recognize we’re making progress on our continued goal to champion children’s well-being. Many were happy about the inclusion of apple slices in every Happy Meal order and the smaller size of the fries – they also shared that we also should consider adding more vegetable options for both kids and adults, which is something we have been exploring. Someone said to me that when we talk about nutrition, portion control, and moderation, sometimes children can be the best “reverse role models” and teach us certain things as well. That particular notion really resonated with me, and I believe that with the special relationship McDonald’s has with families, everyone can work together to help make more nutrition-minded choices about food.
I also appreciate my peers acknowledging that their clients want to -and do- eat at McDonald’s (and other restaurants) – they understand dining out is part of the consumer lifestyle these days and empowering their clients to understand how they can select more balanced options when dining out is one of the best avenues for success. It was interesting to learn that some people are not aware that they can customize their order at McDonald’s – for instance, did you know that you can order your Fruit & Maple Oatmeal without brown sugar or find suggested simple steps for trimming sodium, calories and fat on our website? Hearing some of this feedback made me realize that we have an opportunity to ensure McDonald’s is not only providing easy access to nutritional information in-restaurant, online and via mobile applications, but that we are communicating about it so people are armed with this knowledge.
Overall, I’m glad I had the opportunity to attend the conference and I appreciate the opinions of those who work in the nutrition field every day. Moving forward, I’m really excited for things to come, and I hope that you keep in touch with our progress at McDonalds.com/Changing.
Dr. Cindy Goody, PhD, MBA, RD, LDN
Senior Director of Nutrition, McDonald’s USA