When You Can’t Avoid Fast Food

We all know that, for the most part, fast food is not a great meal from a health standpoint. But our lives get hectic and lets face it, there are times when fast food is our only practical choice for a quick meal.

So how do you avoid the worst effects of fast foods? There have been some encouraging signs that many fast food restaurants are trying to provide healthier choices for their customers. Often you can find salads on the menu, both as a meal or a side order. Some will have chicken in them, so be sure to opt for the grilled chicken salad instead of the fried chicken salad. Also watch out for the salad dressings – they can be loaded with fats – use them sparingly. Also some fast food chains are now offering fruit cups too as a side order.

If a sandwich is your meal of choice, go for the chicken sandwich or veggie burger instead of a beef burger If possible, have lettuce and tomato on it to add some veggies to your meal. A side salad with your sandwich rather than fries is also a good choice.

If you are really craving that beef burger, go with just a plain burger with lettuce and tomato and skip the ones with loads of cheese, bacon or lots of other fattening goodies. Don’t yield to the temptation to super size your order to the double, triple burger either. Just think of what all those extra calories and fat will do. Again, go for the lettuce and tomato and a side salad with it.

You may think a chicken fast food chain may be a better choice. Well, maybe not. Is the chicken fried with all that thick crispy salt laden coating on it? I know that crispy, crunchy stuff tastes great (that’s what we buy fired chicken for isn’t it?), but it is loaded with fat and all that salt doesn’t do us any good either. If you just have to have fried chicken, opt for the regular and not the extra crispy kind. Also, some chains may have roast chicken available too. These will help lower some of the fat intake. Consider a vegetable or salad side order rather than macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, or french fries.

A better choice for a chicken fast food meal would be a grilled chicken sandwich with a side salad or fruit salad. Some chains are offering a choice of several meal sized salads with chunks of grilled chicken in them as well as several smaller side salads without the chicken.

Headed for you favorite Mexican fast food place? Go for the chicken or bean items and those items with lots of lettuce and tomato on them. While these chains may have several meal sized salads available, they may not be your best choice. While these may seem to be a healthier meal, the salads often have more calories and fat than the tacos and burritos. Also, skip the side order of nachos – again more fat and calories.

I’ve recently noticed that some of the Mexican fast food chains are using reduced fat sour cream. At least this is a step in the right direction for reducing the fat in their menus.

If possible at any fast food place, avoid the soft drinks or milk shakes if you can. They are loaded with sugar, fat and probably caffeine. Try water or iced tea instead. Or if you do get a soft drink or shake, don’t get the super biggie one

Here’s a tip – most fast food restaurants have websites with their menus and lists of the nutrition facts for their food. When you have a few minutes, look up your favorite fast food chains and see what the best menus choices are for you and your family. Then when a fast food meal is called for, you’ll know what the healthier choices are before you get there.
Fast food is a fact of life, and an occasional meal at your favorite chain is not going to adversely effect you family’s health in the long run. With a little planning, you can enjoy your fast food and avoid some of the worst of calories and fat that they are known for.

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