Even if you are a person who plans your meals to the T for the week, sometimes things in life come up and the easiest thing for us to do is drive up to the closest fast food place for lunch or dinner.
The truth is, it is hard to eat well when eating fast food because most choices are high in trans fat, saturated fat, sodium and increase the calories of the overall meal. Let’s be real, sometimes we crave some fast foods and want to indulge or just have that crazy day and going through a drive-thru is the best we can do for a meal!
Finding a well-balanced meal in most fast food restaurants is challenging, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done! Focus on the tips below to help make healthier choices at the window.
Watch the portion size!
Many fast food restaurants provide you with meals that are multiple servings in one! Try to avoid any value-sized or supersized choices and choose the smallest size they have when it comes to burgers, sandwiches, and sides. If there’s a children’s menu, you can always choose something off of that!
Watch your sodium intake!
If you know your’re going to be having fast food at some point in your day, try to limit the amount of salt you eat before and after that quick meal. Fast food items are very high in sodium so be sure to drink extra water before, during or after consuming those foods.
Stick to zero calorie beverages!
Having a soda can add up to 300 calories to your meal and having a milkshake can add up to 800 extra calories! That is a lot of added sugar in your meal just from a beverage. The lemonade and fruity sounding drinks are filled with lots of sugar and are very high in calories as well. When possible, stick to water, flavored water, or other zero calorie drinks!
Focus on grilled or roasted lean meats and watch the fries!
When choosing items, try to avoid ordering fried or breaded items! Crispy chicken sandwiches or breaded fish fillets will be higher in fat and carbohydrates than a grilled chicken sandwich. Turkey, chicken breast, lean ham, or lean roast beef are better options when scanning the menu. If you’re looking for plant-based protein sources, you can always ask if they have a vegan burger on the menu! Try to limit or avoid french fries when possible and replace with another healthier side if you’re still hungry.
Even if you’re ordering the healthiest choice on the menu at a fast food chain it can still be difficult to get in enough fiber and other important vitamins and nutrients. However, if you know you’re planning on getting fast-food later in the day, you can plan ahead and bring some extra sides or snacks with you. In addition to enjoying your burger, chicken sandwich, etc. plan to pack a side of nuts, carrot sticks, apple slices or yogurt with you to complement your meal.