I grew up in a fairly health conscious family, both immediate and extended. Our sugar intake was carefully monitored as young kids, and even now, though my children often indulge more than I am comfortable with – sugar intake is high on my radar. I would love to be able to offer them treats without the worry of high caloric intake and the need for dental work (I seriously get cavities *looking* at candy). I can’t say I’m worried about my childrens’ weight right now, but I want them to understand the difference between and value of healthy food vs. treats (not so healthy food) – and the impact that both can have on our bodies, both internally and externally. I’m pretty sure these are the very things that were being considered when low calorie sweeteners, such as Equal, came into the picture. With a rise in diabetes, obesity, and an overall decline in health, something needed to be done. These Low Calorie Sweeteners offer the benefit of *treats* without those added calories, spike in blood sugars (particularly important for those with diabetes), and even risk of cavities (I actually didn’t know that!), all impacting our overall health.
While I haven’t personally used low calorie sweeteners, I have several friends and family members who have and do, all for different reasons. I love being at a restaurant or cafe with someone who has a dietary restriction (or preference) and seeing that catered to. So this morning I went out with a friend to the Northside Lethbridge McDonald’s to see if they, too catered to these dietary needs – in particular, if they offered Equal Low Calorie Sweeteners to their customers. Thinking of the 1400 locations, serving MILLIONS of customers each day in Canada – you know there must be a fairly high percentage who require and/or prefer to use low calorie sweeteners. So wouldn’t it be fair to assume there would be a rather diverse variety, to cover all tastes and preferences, ensuring customer satisfaction? I thought so too…
But you know what? Not only was there just one brand available (certainly not the variety I was hoping for), but not a single Equal packet to be found, which surprised me actually considering that Equal has been a trusted brand of sweetener for 30 years! AND, they also offer two of their own varieties in Canada: Equal Classic (blue package) contains aspartame and is the original Equal Sweetener, and Equal Sucralose (yellow package) which contains sucralose and is commonly used when replacing real sugar in baking. Equal can also be used in many food and drink recipes to replace real sugar.
If independent and large chain coffee shops alike can offer a variety of products to cater to customer needs and preferences (regular, low fat, and soy milk for example), surely McDonald’s – the largest hamburger fast food chain in the WORLD can offer more than one variety of low calorie sweetener.
Because I didn’t have the chance to ask the cashier about it (that time frame between the end of breakfast and beginning of lunch is a bit of a frenzy), I decided to fill in a comment card instead. But seriously, there weren’t any of those either. As we sat and enjoyed our snack (I had a yogurt and berries parfait and a hot chocolate with whipped cream) I scoured the walls for a comment box. But that’s okay, I figured that because we live in a very internet based world, I would just fill in an online comment card when I returned home. Well, that plan was thwarted as well (sigh). The Canadian McDonald’s website only offers the option to phone in your comment or concern, during business hours and the online customer satisfaction survey is only valid with the restaurant code/number from your receipt (if you kept it). So no go there *insert grumpy face*.
Bottom line is this, while I don’t personally use low calorie sweeteners I know many people who do and are grateful for their availability. Hopefully in the near future, McDonald’s will up the ante a bit and expand their variety to include other low calorie sweeteners, including Equal – after all, we don’t say *the more the merrier* for nothing!
There are a few ways of connecting online with both McDonald’s Canada and #EqualCanada. You will find them both on Twitter at @McD_Canada & @EqualCanada. You can also LIKE McDonald’s Canada & Equal Canada on Facebook.