Fast food is an eye-catching option for its low cost and convenience. However, for those of us showing special consideration for our weight and health, it’s often associated with guilt or shame — even if a visit to the drive thru is a rare and special occurrence.
Anticipate Other Circumstances
It’s no secret that meal prep is a valuable nutrition tool. We know that buying, preparing, cooking and packing healthy food ahead of time can keep us on track, but is that always realistic?
Anticipate for things to go a little haywire every now and then! Perhaps your kids might have an extended soccer practice and there’s little time to prepare a meal. Maybe you run out of groceries for the week, but you’re a little too stressed and time-consumed for a visit to the supermarket.
Should you nix fast food? While food that you prepare yourself is most likely the lighter, healthier option, fast food may be your reality some nights. In that case, have a game plane.
Healthy Tips: Fast Food
If fast food is on your menu (don’t panic, it happens), consider these practical tips to lighten-up your order and stay focused on your goals as you hit the drive thru line:
Look at the Calorie Count
These days, many menus display calorie counts. Consider your total calorie “allowance” and strive to choose lighter options that will help you meet it. For example, make it a decision to order an item with 500 calories or less. This could be a chicken wrap or small salad.
Manage Your Condiments
Many condiments and dressings are high in calories, fat and sugar – especially mayonnaise and oil-based sauces. Opt for lighter options like mustard, and ask for these items on the side rather than directly on your meal. Better yet, omit them from your order and use your own!
Get it Grilled or Roasted
Try to avoid fried or breaded items like crispy chicken sandwiches or french fries. Instead, opt for grilled chicken breast or lean roast beef. Roasted veggies can substitute fries or onion rings.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Rather than full-calorie fountain drinks, ask for zero-calorie diet sodas or juices. Better yet, ask for a water cup or keep a bottle of water on-hand at all times.
Pay Attention to Portion Sizes
Many restaurants sell food items in large quantities. Try to avoid orders marketed as “supersized” or “value-sized.” When you get your meal, stop eating when you feel satiated.
Customize and Special Order
There’s no rule saying you have to order each item as it appears on the menu. Customize your order to your liking! For example, ask for bread or bacon to be removed. You can also opt for no cheese, skip the fries or onion rings, add extra pickles or choose grilled proteins.
All foods fit within moderation. If you have to splurge on fast food every once in a while, it’s no sweat off your back. Make healthier choices when you can, including in the drive thru!