Fast Food Restaurants – What You Should Eat
It can be difficult not to eat fast food from time to time, even though we may try very hard not to. As Americans, and people the world over, become busier and take on additional responsibilities, planning a menu, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up have become daunting tasks that we take on less and less.
Fast food restaurants are not all bad. Many now have healthy alternatives for those who like eating well and being healthy. The key is knowing how to navigate the menus at your favorite establishments. The next time you find yourself on the road for work or pleasure and fail to pack a healthy snack, don’t hesitate to stop at a fast food restaurant; just take our lead when preparing to place your order.
Here are a couple of basic rules to remember when ordering at fast food restaurants:
- Order water to drink, never soda. Sodas contain sodium and sugar in unhealthy levels which are hard to get out of your system, even diet soda. Avoid them at all costs. If water is not an option, or you want something with a little flavor, at least order diet soda which is sugar free.
- Try to avoid anything that is fried. Fried chicken, french fries, fried cheese, anything fried contains unnecessary fat and calories. Look for healthy options that are not fried. Grilled chicken is something that is on almost every fast food menu.
- Order food without condiments or with condiments on the side. If something contains “special sauce” or mayonnaise, anything other than ketchup and mustard, order the food without condiments. This cuts down on the number of calories and grams of fat being consumed. If you cannot do without the condiments, order them on the side and put them on yourself. Many employees at fast food restaurants do not know the meaning of “light”.
- Never add salt. The food served at fast food restaurants many times contains enough salt for about three meals, before any additional salt is added. Salt is a big contributor to heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. It is good practice to avoid any temptation to add additional salt to anything purchased at a fast food restaurant.
- Ask for a bag for leftovers. If ever there was a time to practice portion control it is when at a fast food restaurant. Of course the size seems almost perfect for one meal, but everything is inundated with fat, calories, and carbs. Every bit that you can leave on your plate is less that will be absorbed into your body. And luckily, the prices at fast food restaurants are so reasonable that you can leave food behind and not cringe at the thought of being wasteful.
Here is a list of suggested purchases from some popular fast food restaurants:
Salads (with grilled chicken) 220-320 calories each
Newman’s Balsamic Vinaigrette 40 calories
Newman’s Italian 60 calories
(Croutons are an additional 60 calories per package)
Grilled chicken snack wrap 245 calories
Fruit & walnut salad 210 calories
Scrambled Eggs 170 calories
Fruit & Yogurt Parfait 160 calories
Apple Dippers 35 calories
Caramel Dip 70 calories
Ice Cream Cone 150 calories
(compare to hot fudge sundae @ 340 calories)
Small Cappuccino 60 calories
(compare to small nonfat latte @ 90 calories)
Click HERE to view McDonald’s entire nutritional menu.
Taco Bell –
Taco Bell now offers a “Fresco” menu, which is 9 menu items under 9 grams of fat. The best of these items, by far, is the Grilled Steak Soft Taco. I have had this item several times, and it is very tasty. It has only 160 calories and 40 calories from fat. It is important to also look at the number of calories from fat when evaluating fast food menus, and not just the calories.
Click HERE to view Taco Bell’s entire nutritional menu.
The reason we like Wendy’s is because they now offer five (5) new menu items that you may order, when ordering from their value meals, rather than french fries. These options include: baked potato, side salad,Caesar side salad, small cup of chili, and Mandarin oranges.
Wendy’s also has a complete salad menu, my favorite of which is the Grilled Chicken BLT salad. My downfall when eating a Wendy’s salad are the delicious garlic croutons of which I always ask for extra!!
Click HERE to view Wendy’s entire nutritional menu.
Here is a tool that can help you locate great food in your area, no matter where that may be. Simply enter your zip code and you will be provided with the names of restaurants, their locations, and the menu items available that are reduced-calorie or reduced fat. They include fast food restaurants, fine dining, casual dining – no dining option is excluded. This tool is FREE of charge to the user. Try Healthy Dining Finer.
- Panera Bread
- Jason’s Deli
- Au Bon Pain
- Noodles and Company
- Corner Bakery Cafe
- Atlanta Bread
- Einstein Brother’s Bagels
- Taco Del Mar
Worst Fast Food Items
|Drink||Sonic Minute Made Cranberry Juice Slush (LG)||450 cal|
|Menu Item||Burger King Spick Chicken Crisp Sandwich||450 cal|
|Mexican Entree||Taco Bell Grilled Stuffed Burrito||680 cal|
|Hot Sandwich||Sonic Chicken Club Toaster Sandwich||690 cal|
|Breakfast Sandwich||Jack in the Box Sausage, Edd and Cheese Biscuit||740 cal|
|Fish Entree||Long John Silvers' Battered Fish (2 pc) & small fry||750 cal|
|Salad||Chick-fil-a Chicken Strips salad with Buttermail Ranch Dressing||610 cal|
|Roast Beef Sandwich||Arby's ROast Beef & Swiss Market Fresh||810 cal|
|Kid's Meal||Burger King kid's dbl cheeseburger with kids fry & sm coke||950 cal|
|Chicken Strips||Dairy Queen 6 pc Chicken Strips Basket||1,270 cal|
|Side||Arby's LG Mozerella Sticks||849 cal|
|Milkshake||McDonald's LG triple thick chocolate shake||1,160 cal|
|Potato Side||Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Potato Wedges||720 cal|
|Dessert||Dairy Queen Strawberry Cheesecake Blizzard||990 cal|
|Fish Sandwich||Burger Kind BIG FISH Sandwich with Tartar Sauce||640 cal|
|Cheeseburger||Hardees Monster THickburger||1,420|
|"Healthy" Food||Arby's roast turkey & swill market fresh||708 cal|
|Grilled Chicken||Jack in the Boc Chipotle Chicken Ciabatta||690 cal|
|Meal||Carl's Jr. Guacamole bacon burger with chili cheese fries & 32 oz. coke||2,340 cal|