Your Guide to Making Healthier Choices at McDonald’s

“This year I plan to make healthier choices and lose weight!”

Deciding to be healthier is probably the most frequently made New Year’s Resolution and also probably the most quickly forgotten resolution.

Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador for Central Arkansas McDonald’s. All opinions are my own.

It is also probably one that many of us need to stick to and it is one of my main goals for 2017.  

Many people get serious about weight loss when they have a health scare. I have several friends who have faced this head on this year. I want to fix the problem before I have a health scare. 

McDonald’s probably isn’t the first place you think of when you think about losing weight. 

Last year, I shared with you about John Cisna. He ate nothing but McDonald’s  to lose weight. He counted calories and watched his salt intake and closely monitored every bite so he remained healthy and lost weight. I met John and he is pretty cool. I wrote about his story, but his story is not for me.

I love McDonald’s, but I’m not gonna eat it for every meal! I typically grab breakfast and pick up my #busdutycoffee every Tuesday.  I usually grab lunch or dinner from the drive-thru at least once a week too because it’s good and sometimes I just like to be lazy!

Chances are most of you are more like me than John. You enjoy going through the drive-thru a few times a month but you’re not going to do it for every meal. So how can we eat at McDonald’s and still maintain our health goals? By making a few small changes, it’s really not that hard!

Your Guide to Making Healthier Choices at McDonald's

Your Guide to Making Healthier Choices at McDonald’s

1. Choose Your Drink Wisely

I love Coca-cola and as I discussed last fall, McDonald’s Coca-cola really is the BEST. Sadly, soda isn’t always the best choice for your waistline.  Since I would never recommend diet soda (Google the research!), here are my recommendations:


  • Get a small drink. A large Coca-cola has 300 calories; a small has only 170 calories.   A large Sweet Tea has 160 calories and a small has only 90.  You can consistently save half the calories by choosing a small drink. If you are still thirsty, you can refill your cup with water. 
  • Get bottled water. McDonald’s offers bottled Dasani Water at all of their restaurants. It has no sugar and no calories!
  • Watch how you dress your coffee. I like my #busdutycoffee with no sugar and four creamers. Each creamer packs 20 calories bringing my calorie-free coffee up to 80 total calories. If I cut back to two creamers, I can save myself 40 calories and probably won’t miss them at all.

2. Choose Your Side Wisely

Who doesn’t love fries? They are hot and salty and OH SO GOOD! But a small order of fries has 230 calories! Add ketchup to your fries? Each ketchup packet adds an additional 10 calories. Fortunately, McDonald’s offers a variety of sides to choose from and you can always substitute the side salad at no extra charge.


  • Side Salad – a side salad with no dressing has 15 calories. Add Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette for a total of only 50 calories. 
  • Fruit N’ Yogurt Parfait – Even with the granola packet the Fruit N’ Yogurt Parfait only has 150 calories. (These also make a great breakfast or mid-day snack option!)
  • Yoplait Go-GURT Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt – I was originally turned off to these because of the name “Go- GURT”. That just sounds gross! But one day I tried one and they are actually really good! At only 50 calories it makes a great, healthy, side option. 
  • Fruit – McDonald’s offers apple slices year-round and Cuties on a seasonal basis. Both are under 35 calories and you get all the nutritional value that fruit offers. 

3. Choose Your Main Dish Wisely

I LOVE the Big Mac. Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun! Yes, Please! But 540 calories? Yikes.  I savor one of these babies maybe once every year or two. The rest of the time, I try to choose a little wiser. 

Artisan Grilled Chicken

  • 6-Piece Chicken McNuggets – These tasty, all-white-meat nuggets have 270 calories. But skip the dipping sauce. Most of the sauces add a whole bunch of unwanted calories and the McNuggets taste really great on their own. 
  • Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich – I tend to forget about McDonald’s Chicken Sandwiches. The McChicken is their traditional choice and only has 350 calories. It’s a good choice, but the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich has so much flavor you will forget you are trying to be healthy! It’s only 380 calories and you can always leave the Vinaigrette Sauce off and save an extra 20 calories. The artisan grilled chicken filet is so beautifully seasoned, you won’t miss the sauce. 
  • Keep Your Burger Simple – Nothing is more McDonald’s than a traditional Hamburger or Cheeseburger. The Hamburger has 250 calories. Adding the cheese brings you up to 300. A slice of cheese is always worth an extra 50 calories in my book!

Note: The information shown above is provided by McDonald’s Nutrition Calculator.

If losing weight and getting healthier this year is on your list of New Year’s Resolutions, don’t let poor choices keep you from succeeding. Whether you eat at McDonald’s as a treat, because you have a busy night, because you are traveling or even because you just love McDonald’s you can still keep on track to meet your goal of making 2017 your best year yet!

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