Is Salad Always the Healthiest Option on the Menu?

Salad Kale Healthy

At some time or another, we all wind up visiting a fast food restaurant. We all get busy, and a quick stop at a drive-through might mean the difference between eating now or not eating a meal at all. However, when visiting a fast food restaurant, it’s important to know what is actually healthy on the menu.

Looks can be deceiving – although McDonald’s describes their “Keep Calm, Caesar On” chicken salad with great descriptions like, “four servings of vegetables,” “get your greens on with eight kinds of lettuce” and “nutrient-rich lettuce blend with baby kale” the truth is that by the time they’ve topped the salad with bacon, fried chicken and asiago Caesar dressing, this salad clocks in at a higher calorie count and more sodium than a Double Big Mac.

Often the way companies choose to market their food is a strategic decision to reach the consumer – you – with a message that will resonate. “Many foods have added nutrients and are marketed as ‘healthy.’ For example, sugar laden cereals that have added fiber or sweetened drinks that are fortified with vitamins and minerals,” said Sarah Muntel, RD. “These products seem healthy, but are they? Think about a healthy food like an apple or a carrot. Does it need a label telling you its nutritional benefits?”

Now, not every salad you encounter is an unhealthy option. But as a buyer, it is important for you to be aware that sometimes marketing is designed to make a food seem as though you’re making a healthy choice when in reality it would be better for you to choose a different item.

Here are a few tips you can use when making decisions about what to order in a fast food restaurant:

  • Leave off the Sauces: Mayo and high-calorie sauces can add tons of calories to a sandwich. Make yours plain or add mustard, salsa or low-calorie dressing.
  • Substitute the Fries: You do not have to eat the fries. Lots of fast food restaurants now offer choices. Pick a salad, fruit or yogurt instead of fries.
  • Choose Calorie-free Drinks: Skip the sodas and go for water or a sugar-free beverage, like unsweetened tea or light lemonade.
  • Get it Grilled: Try a grilled chicken versus a fried chicken sandwich. Instead of chicken nuggets, try a hamburger.
  • Limit Portions: Portions are huge at restaurants. Cut your sandwich in half and save some for the next meal.

These tips first appeared in “Fast Food – Is It the Enemy?” an article from Your Weight Matters Magazine. To learn more about fast food and its impact on weight in the United States, please CLICK HERE.

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