McDonald’s in the GCC is highly committed to the health of its customers and understands that they are more eager than ever to maintain a balanced lifestyle and make informed food choices.
Since 2004, McDonald’s has been posting all their nutrition information on their tray mats and website where it’s easy to see. Now McDonald’s has made it even easier to see what’s in the food you’re enjoying. It’s the first quick service restaurant in the Middle East to post nutrition information right on its packaging. McDonald’s wants you to be informed about what you’re eating so you can make choices that suit your lifestyle.
Farah Al Rifai, Clinical and Community Dietitian said:
The availability and selection of food across the GCC – both fresh and prepared – has increased exponentially in recent years. We’re now spoilt for choice, often spending hours mulling over what to eat for lunch or dinner. But with this rapidly increasing selection comes a growing curiosity about the contents of the foods we are enjoying. What’s in my hamburger? How many calories are in this salad? What are carbohydrates, and how many of those am I supposed to eat today?’
According to a recent study, nearly 90% of UAE respondents read the information provided on food labels. We are more curious about our food than ever, and with good reason. It’s our right to know.
Al Rifai added:
That’s where food labels come in. They work as handy and quick references, showing us exactly what’s in our food and how that relates to everything else we decide to eat and do that day. At first glance, they may just seem like long and confusing lists of numbers, but food labels tell us a story – a very important story – about the food we’re enjoying. Our bodies are highly complex; they have very specific requirements about what they need to keep them running throughout the day. Bodies need lots of some things, but only small amounts of others.’
Al Rifai admits that the only tricky thing about food labels is that they don’t come with a built in user’s guide, making it tough to understand what words like ‘protein’ really mean. We may find ourselves wondering why we need protein, what it does for us, and how much we’re supposed to eat in a day.
Most food labels contain a minimum of five nutritional components: calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein, and sodium. Some labels also contain information on vitamins and minerals – important and naturally occurring nutrients that help our bodies to function on a daily basis. So what do all these things mean?
Al Rifai explains these labels, stating that Calories are units of energy; just as we use centimetres to tell us how long something is, calories tell us how much energy something will give our body. It is the total amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1°C. Even though we can’t see calories, but they’re right there in the foods we eat and drink. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to exercise regularly and to only eat as many calories as we expend.
Fat has a bad rap. To many of us, it’s a bad word, and is something we are told to stay away from. Our bodies need a little fat to keep our hair and skin healthy and maintain our body temperature, but a little goes a long way. So if we have a meal that’s high in fat for breakfast, it’s probably a good idea to make some balanced choices during the dinner time meal.
Carbohydrates are a form of energy for our bodies. They are a little bit like the fuel that goes into a car; they keep us running throughout the day. Breads and muffins are sources of carbohydrates.
Protein helps us build muscle, digest our food and help our bodies build new cells. Our bodies digest proteins more slowly than carbohydrates, so they help us feel full for a long time. We find protein in meats like beef, fish, chicken, and in beans.
Sodium – most often found in salt – is vital to our survival; we can’t live without it. Sodium helps our bodies maintain the water content in our blood, and plays an important role in keeping our muscles moving. But we only need a little bit of salt each day to stay healthy, which is why doctors tell us to keep a close eye on our salt consumption.
And the dietitian concludes:
Of course, it’s important to remember that no matter what we eat – whether we’re indulging in a yummy treat or a healthful snack – maintaining an active lifestyle is key to a long and balanced life. Staying active helps our bodies burn off all the ‘fuel’ we consume when we eat and drink, so it’s a good rule of thumb to do at least one hour of physical activity each day. If you have questions about how much physical activity you should be doing and how many calories you should be eating on a daily basis, speak to your doctor or a clinical dietician.’
McDonald’s urges its clients to read the nutrition information so they find out what they are eating.