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Most of us, at one point or another, will stop at a fast food restaurant. It’s not ideal, but it’s fast and convenient especially during long road trips or if you’re in a hurry. I, personally, love fast food (especially fries) but I also know that it’s mostly greasy, empty calories so I limit my visits to only once every few months.
To help keep control of your daily calorie intake, most places now have chicken and vegetarian options as well as fresh fruit or veggies for sides (instead of fries) which makes ordering healthier a little easier. But make no mistake, there are hidden calories, carbs, and chemicals in everything! Here are a few healthy tips when driving through your favorite fast food restaurant.
Tips on ordering:
Order grilled chicken inside of fried. You’re saving lots of calories right there!
Asked for mayo to be put on the side. This will put you in control of how much goes on your sandwich.
Salads are great, but if you have bacon, cheese, croutons, crispy chicken the calories can climb well over the 700’s. Consider using a moderate amount of dressing and stay away from “candied” anything.
If you can, hold the cheese. Most fast food restaurants probably don’t have a high-quality cheese which leaves its customers with a slice of chemically composed, tasteless fat.
Try ordering “no bun”, some places will use a few pieces of lettuce to replace the unwanted carbs.
Swap a tortilla (at Chipotle or Moe’s) for lettuce. By making your burrito into a salad, you’re saving calories.
If you’re going to get Chinese, try ordering dishes that are full of steamed or lightly stir-fried veggies (ask them to use very little oil) and lean proteins (shellfish, fish, chicken, tofu, lean beef).
If you have a choice of breads, try whole wheat or whole grain bread.
Try fresh veggies instead of fried or sautéed veggies.
Ordering Pizza? Try loading it with vegetables and going light on the cheese.
Thin crust for pizza is a good swap as well.
If possible, order vegetables or fruit as your side instead of French fries or onion rings.
Most importantly: DO YOUR RESEARCH. Some options that seem like the “obvious” healthy choice may not be. Check online or ask an employee for nutrition facts and information. For example, the Bacon Ranch Salad at McDonalds has about the same calories, carbs, and protein as a McDouble but the salad actually has more cholesterol, more fat, and more sodium.
I also wanted to note that while researching items for this blog, almost every site (and I went to dozens) had differing opinions on which meal was healthiest at which restaurant. There were, however, a few that remand the top option throughout and I wanted to share them.
Starbucks Bistro Box, specifically the protein box and the cheese and cracker box which is one of my favorite snacks.
Taco Bell Fresco Menu, which pairs steak and chicken with fresh pico or salad options.
Chick-Fil-A, Grilled chicken tenders with fruit or salad.