In a perfect world, we would have a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. For most people, this is simply not possible. We are busy. We have hectic work schedules, we’re faced with daily commutes, and when we travel it can be very difficult to find healthy food options. And, sometimes, we simply crave fast food.
The trick is to make healthy choices when we do eat at fast food restaurants. While it’s easy to opt for a burger and fries, there are healthier options, and fast food restaurants are increasingly adding healthier choices to their menus.
Tips for making healthier choices at fast food restaurants
- Do your research ahead of time: Everyone eats at fast food restaurants from time to time. Rather than trying to figure out healthy choices when you get to a restaurant, do your research ahead of time. Visit fast food restaurant websites, and take a look at the nutritional information so that you know what healthy options are available.
- Have a go-to fast food chain: Many people have a go-to restaurant option. Order the same items when you want to eat at restaurants with healthy fast food options. Have a few places in mind where you know you can get a reasonably healthy meal.
- Get your greens: Salads are showing up on fast food menus across the country. Opt for a salad if possible, but watch out for high-calorie, fatty salad dressing and ingredients.
- Portion control: Controlling your portions will help you keep your calorie count down. Just because you go to a fast food restaurant doesn’t mean you have to indulge. Get a single patty burger instead of a double burger, and avoid supersizing anything.
- Special orders: Don’t be afraid to ask for special orders. Most restaurants are more than willing to accommodate your requests. You can make many items healthier with a few simple requests. Opt for whole-grain buns, grilling instead of frying, and go easy on the secret sauce and condiments.
- Pass on the bacon and cheese: These are two of the biggest culprits of unhealthy eating at fast food restaurants. Cheese and bacon are high in calories and fat. Skipping these ingredients will definitely help to keep your calorie count down.
- Go for the chicken: Opting for a grilled chicken burger or wrap is a great alternative to a burger. It’s lean, has fewer calories, and is a better choice overall.
- Skip the fries: Skipping the fries or opting for a salad or baked potato will immediately make your meal healthier. If you combine this with a chicken sandwich on a whole-grain bun, you have a fairly healthy fast food meal.
- Drink water instead of pop: A regular 590-mL bottle of soft drink has about 250 calories. Drinking water instead will instantly lower the amount of calories in your meal.
- Skip dessert: Pass on the cookies, ice cream, and other dessert options as part of your meal. If you find you need something extra to fill you up, have another piece of chicken or some other portion of vegetables.
If you make the right choices, eating at fast food restaurants can be a healthy option. The next time you find yourself at the drive-through, remember these tips and opt for healthier food choices.