First off, this is not an endorsement for eating at fast-food restaurants. In fact, I recommend you avoid them at all cost. Most menu items in these places are generally low in nutrition and high in calories, sodium and saturated fat – not exactly a great formula for healthy eating! But if you’re in a pinch for a quick meal and a fast-food restaurant is your only option, here are a few tips for making wiser meal choices:
Order the Smallest Portion Size
If the menu item you want comes in different sizes, your best bet is to go with the smallest (children’s or junior size) – you’ll save a ton of calories. Be sure to steer clear of the burgers that have two or three patties in them. Some of those artery cloggers pack upwards of 1,000 calories and 25 grams of saturated fat. And don’t be tempted to “super-size” anything – there’s no value in tacking on useless calories to a meal that’s not healthy to begin with. Trust me – in these places, smaller is better!
Choose Healthier Side Items
If you must have side orders, I suggest swapping out the French fries and onion rings for healthier choices like fruit, yogurt or a salad. Most of the large fast-food chains wised up over the last several years and now offer healthier food choices. (It’s amazing how lawsuits bring about change!) Although the quality of these healthier alternatives is questionable in most fast-food restaurants, they still beat out the old “standbys” which are higher in calories, saturated fat, sodium and a bunch of other garbage – it’s no contest.
Opt for Grilled or Roasted Items
Always choose menu items that are either grilled or roasted – they’re usually the “lesser of all evils” listed on the menu. I also recommend sticking with the leaner meats such as turkey, chicken or lean roast beef. Keep away from menu items that are described as fried, crispy or extra crispy – they’re generally much higher in calories and saturated fat compared to items that are grilled or roasted.
Special Order Your Meal
Don’t settle for the pre-made food items that may have been sitting under heat lamps for hours. Chances are they’re loaded up with every condiment under the sun, further tipping the calorie and sodium scales. You’re much better off special ordering your item “plain” and getting the condiments you want on the side. This way, you have control over what goes in your meal, plus it’ll be fresher since they prepare it right there for you. It might take a few extra minutes, but it’s well worth the wait.
Choose a Low Calorie (or no calorie) Beverage
This is where things can go wrong in a hurry, especially if you cave in and order one of those “specialty” (mocha, latte, frappe) drinks. These high octane drinks range from about 250 – 800 calories a pop, depending on the size you order. The shakes and smoothies aren’t much better. And regular soda is about 150 calories per 12 ounces – another bad choice. Your best bet is to go with low calorie drinks like unsweetened iced tea, coffee or water. Don’t waste calories on beverages!
As I said earlier, I’m not endorsing fast-food restaurants. But we all find ourselves in them from time to time – myself included. The obvious solution (besides staying out of these joints!) to eating healthier at fast-food restaurants is simply to ignore the majority of the menu items and take the salad, fruit and yogurt route – or any other “healthy” item that might be available. If you can do that, all the more power to you. But for the other ninety-nine percent of you, follow these tips and you’ll survive fast-food restaurants just fine!
I hope that helps,
PaulShare With Friends: