While everyone should know that fast food isn’t a very healthy choice, we all still make that choice sometimes. Maybe it’s a quick lunch between meetings or appointments, a rushed dinner after a long day at work, a quick snack while studying or the only option on a long road trip; there are plenty of reasons why we turn to fast food, but it almost always comes down to the “fast” part. Eating fast food doesn’t have to be horribly unhealthy, though, as long as you know which foods to avoid and what choices you should make instead. Here are a few tips to help you make better choices when you must turn to fast food.
1- Avoid extra butter, dressing, sauce, sour cream or spreads, and opt for low-fat options such as ketchup, mustard and salsa. You can always ask for your veggies without the sauce or your chicken sandwich with mustard instead of mayonnaise, for example.
2- Chew your food slowly instead of wolfing it down – it takes a while for your stomach to register that you’re full, which could cause you to overeat and feel stuffed and lethargic.
3- Choose water instead of iced tea, juice, lemonade or soda. Even seemingly healthy juices are usually loaded with sugar, which can add hundreds of empty calories to your meal. If you want some flavor, opt for an unsweetened iced tea or water with lemon.
4- Carefully read the terms used to describe menu items – things that are labeled as batter dipped and/or fried, breaded, creamy, crispy, deep fried, pan fried, scalloped or served in cream sauce are going to be very caloric and high in saturated fat.
5- If you must eat at a buffet, stick to broiled entrees, fresh fruit, salads with low-fat dressing or oil and vinegar, and steamed vegetables. Avoid all the pasta, fried food and creamy dishes – or just take a bite.
6- Opt for menu items with lean meats and vegetables when possible, and watch out for sodium intake – fast food is notoriously salty.
7- Never go for the supersized portion at the drive-through – this type of fast food meal can easily contain enough calories and fat to go over your daily limits in one sitting!
8- Resist the temptation to add bacon or cheese to your sandwich for extra flavor. Instead, go for flavorful toppings such as lettuce, mustard, onions, peperoncinis, pickles and tomatoes, which are virtually free of fat and calories.