How to Order Healthy at a Fast Food Restaurant

How to Order Healthy at a Fast Food Restaurant

Now you all know a healthy lifestyle is built through meal prep and an organized kitchen, right?  Well, sometimes life still gets in the way and throws a wrench into any good intentions and plans we had.

I know that personally I have avoided fast food drive thrus for years and years.  We have busy lives, but with planning, I have not had to resort to fast food for dinner.   However, I have had to hit one up on a trip because that was all there was for miles and miles.  I found that while a fast food restaurant is not the ideal place for me to get a healthy meal for my family, it is also not the same fast food restaurant from twenty years ago.  Things have changed, for the better.

Sure, you will still find the same junk food at a fast food joint, but you can now find healthy fast food options as well.  Our society has demanded it.  I am guessing that most of you know which foods to avoid at a fast food place, but I am going to throw it in here to make sure we are all clear.

Not-So-Healthy Fast Food Choices

The first thing you want to avoid is anything oversized, megasized, or supersized.  These enormous portions have become the norm, when in reality they could be enough food for two or more people.  Stick to regular sized items, or even child-sized portions.  The kids’ menu is a great place to build a simple, healthier meal.

You also want to stay away from heavy, creamy sauces.  Some fast food restaurants use a “special” sauce on their sandwiches, which really is a mayo-based sauce full of fat.  Stick to ketchup and mustard for sauces to flavor up your burger.

If you can, skip the cheese on your sandwich.  It will save you at least 100 calories and unwanted fat.  Onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard will give your sandwich enough flavor where you won’t miss the cheese.

Avoid anything deep fried.  I know, those salty French fries are so tempting, but are they worth it?  If you really think so, order the smallest size and share with someone.  Try not to pick a fried food as your main meal though.  You will usually find fried chicken and fried fish sandwiches, as well as other items like chicken nuggets, onion rings and hush puppies.

When it comes to drinks, you really want to stay away from sodas and juices, as well as fat-laden milkshakes.

Healthy Fast Food Choices

When it comes to burgers, you can get a plain basic hamburger and do okay.  If you want less carbs, only eat the bottom of the bun and remove the top.  Just remember to keep your toppings simple.  Go for lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, ketchup, and mustard.

Another good sandwich option is grilled chicken.  Again, just be wary of sauces and toppings, and skip half the bun to go lower-carb.  If they have a wrap option, go for that instead of a roll.  Even better would be a whole grain wrap or roll option.

Many fast food places now have several salad options, and they are actually pretty good most of the time.  Look for the most basic salad that contains just vegetables.  Throwing fried chicken on some lettuce does not make a healthy meal.  If there is a grilled chicken option, go for it.   Also keep the croutons, cheese, and bacon bits off.  Pick a salad dressing that is oil based, not cream based, and use sparingly.

You will also be pleasantly surprised to now find fruit and yogurt cups at fast food restaurants.  This is a great way to get some protein, fiber, and calcium, plus add to your daily intake of fruits and vegetables.  Just watch the size.  If it’s enormous, share it with someone else.  Pair up this cup with a plain burger or a grilled chicken salad, and you will have a pretty good meal.

As for beverages, stick to bottled water, unsweetened iced tea, or low-fat milk to quench your thirst.

Be your own person

Another thing to consider is what the people with you are ordering.  Don’t be tempted to eat junk if they are eating junk.  It can be very hard to sit across from someone eating delicious smelling French fries while you are eating a salad.  If you love French fries, ask to share and have a few so you don’t feel deprived.

If you find yourself with no choice but to eat at a fast food restaurant, remember these tips.  It is possible to find healthy fast food choices.  You also want to think about balance.  The same day you eat the fast food, you are going to want to keep the rest of your food intake on the healthier side.  You will most likely have taken in more sodium than usual, and possibly more fat and calories as well.  To balance this, keep your eating on the lighter side for the next 24 hours.  You will also want to get a good workout in to help burn off any extra calories you ate.

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