Be Happy, Feel Beautiful
Sometimes it’s hard not to eat at a fast food restaurant because they are so accessible. Most of us pass by at least 15 fast food places on our way home every day. Fast food is cheap, convenient, filling, and to many of us, it tastes good. If you are eating out, a fast food restaurant is often the least expensive option. But unfortunately, it isn’t the healthiest one. Eating just one fast food meal can pack enough calories, sodium and fat for an entire day or more. Still, in a bad economy the quick temptation can often be hard to resist. So what’s a Belle to do? You can make healthier choices and still enjoy the price and convenience of fast food restaurants. So, rather than tell you what you should already know (that fast food is bad for you), here is a guide to help you make better choices the next time your stomach grumbles and you’re near a Mickey D’s.
Things to keep in mind when placing your order
Don’t drink your calories: You order your french fries and burger and then you add a 16 oz cup of soda. Choose water or unsweetened tea over soda. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. One 32 oz Big Gulp with regular cola packs about 425 calories, so one Big Gulp can quickly dominate a big portion of your daily calorie intake. If water tastes bland to you, try adding a little lemon or ordering unsweetened iced tea.
Make careful menu selections and look out for keywords: Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au gratin or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats or sodium. Order items with more vegetables and choose leaner meats.
Know what you want: Many menu items would be healthy if it weren’t for the way they were prepared. Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces. Ask for olive oil and vinegar for your salads or order the dressing on the side. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask to have it broiled or steamed. Choose whole wheat if they offer varied bread options.
“Undress” your food: When choosing items, be aware of calorie and fat-packed salad dressings, spreads, cheese and sour cream. For example, ask for a grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise. You can ask for a packet of ketchup or mustard and add it on to the burger yourself. This will help you control your calorie intake.
Know before you go
Many fast food restaurants offer nutritional information on their websites. They state what certain meals contain and how many calories are in them. When you get the chance, it may be a good idea to search your usual fast food joint and learn a little more about their menu. That way, the next time you’re waiting in line you will know exactly what you need to avoid and what your best options are. You may be surprised at what you find.
Here are some links to popular fast food menus
McDonalds: Homepage | Nutrition (overview) | Nutrition facts
Burger King: Homepage | Nutrition brochure (PDF)
Wendy’s: Homepage | Menu
Arby’s: Homepage | Menu | Menu (PDF)
Subway: Homepage | Menu (PDF)
Pizza Hut: Homepage | Nutrition | Nutrition Guide (PDF) | Ingredients (PDF)
Taco Bell: Homepage | Menu | Nutrition facts (PDF)
Eat this not that
Beef – The beef is going to be the lowest quality they are allowed to serve (in most cases).
French fries and onion rings
Also, remember to…
Eat mindfully. Pay attention to what you eat and savor each bite. Chew your food more thoroughly and avoid eating on the run. Being mindful also means stopping before you are full. It takes time for our bodies to register that we have eaten. Mindful eating relaxes you, so you digest food better, and become more satisfied.
Every so often it feels good to be bad and indulge in a fast food meal, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Being truly healthy means making the right decisions in every aspect of your life. Follow this guide and be the healthiest version of you, you can be!