We all know that fast food isn’t exactly the healthiest grub out there. It tends to lack nutritional value, instead favoring an overload of sodium and calories. But fast food is cheap and easy to find, which makes it the best option for grabbing a bite to eat while you’re on the go. For many people, finding a well-balanced meal at a fast food joint often proves challenging. We’ve got you covered with some tips and tricks to make fast food healthier.
Tips for Healthier Fast Food Options
We’ve got a bunch of tips on eating healthier at fast food restaurants, like U Need A, but here are the main things to keep in mind:
- Choose a meal that’s under 500 calories: Fast food meals often contain more calories and sodium than other foods we eat. Most fast food restaurants offer nutritional information on their website or in-store, so take a few moments to browse through the information and find items that will keep your calorie intake low.
- Choose low-fat meals that are high in fiber and protein: Look at the menu for meals that are higher in protein, fiber, and whole grains as these are more nutritious than many popular fast food options. Stay away from trans fats and choose items that are low in saturated fats.
- Reduce your portion intake: Fast food meals are usually much larger than a typical serving of food. Look for smaller sandwiches on the menu or get a kids’ size. You can also avoid getting fries or chips on the side to limit your portion intake.
By planning ahead and taking a look at a restaurant’s nutritional information, you can prevent a lot of the hassle that comes with ordering healthier fast food. For those times when you don’t get a chance to look at the info, take note of our next few tips.
Choose roasted or grilled meats: Look for meals with chicken, turkey, or lean ham and beef. Avoid breaded and fried foods, such as crispy fillets or chicken sandwiches. Skinless grilled chicken tends to be the healthiest meat at fast food restaurants.
Look at the menu descriptions: The way an item is described can be a clue as to how many calories or unhealthy fats it contains. Items that are crispy, creamy, scalloped, or pan-fried tend to be full of sodium and calories. They also contain higher levels of trans fat. Avoid these items when you see them on a fast food menu.
Watch your condiments and dressings: While they might taste good, salad dressings and sauces add calories and fat to your fast food meal. If you need condiments, avoid oily sauces and mayonnaise. These have more calories and unhealthy fats than ketchup or mustard.
Pass on that side of fries: Sure, fries are tasty, but do you really need them? Your sandwich should be enough to satisfy your rumbling tummy, and fries just add more sodium to your meal. You should also avoid side options like chips or onion rings as these are high in calories. Fruit slices or salads are healthier choices and available at most fast food restaurants.
Choose a low-calorie drink: Juice and carbonated drinks are an easily forgotten source of calories and excess sugar. These drinks often contain a large amount of your daily recommended sugar and fat intake. They also lack any nutritional value. If you’re looking for a healthier option, you can get water, unsweetened tea, or diet drinks at most fast food restaurants.
Personalize your order: Many fast food items can be made with a few adjustments. Don’t be afraid to ask for less sauce or to get it on the side. And when you can, choose whole wheat bread and request less salt for your fries.
Fast food is a great way of satisfying your hunger when you’re out and about, and it doesn’t have to be as unhealthy as we usually think. By spending a bit of time considering your options, you can increase the nutritional value of your next fast food meal and feel better for having found a healthy option on the go.