According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “from 2007 to 2010 adults received 11.3 percent of their daily calories from fast food, and children and teens consumed on average 12.4 percent” (CDC). Here are some tips to keep in mind while ordering out:
Skip the sugary drinks
Sodas, sweet teas, and other sugary drinks can add a lot of empty calories to your meal meaning they provide energy, but no nutrition. Choose water instead, unsweetened tea, or other low-calorie drinks. If you are in need of a little flavor, try adding a splash of lemon or lime juice to your water.
Watch your portion sizes
Fast food places are known for their large serving portions. Share a meal with a friend or save half for lunch tomorrow.
Look for key words when ordering protein options
Foods that are fried are much higher in fat and calories, which can lead to weight gain over time and other health related problems. Opting for grilled or baked items while reviewing a menu can help with staying on track with nutrition goals and support weight management. Fast food restaurants often offer a variety of protein options, including beef, chicken, and fish. Choose leaner cuts of meat, such as grilled chicken or fish.
Load up on vegetables
Now, it is more common for fast food chains to offer salads and other vegetable based meals. These can be a great option for getting your daily dose of vegetables. Veggies are low in calories and high in filling fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Take it easy on the condiments
Condiments like mayonnaise and barbecue sauce can add a lot of calories, fat and added sugar to your meal. Try using them lightly, or even try a lower calorie option like mustard or salsa.
Look for whole-grain options
Many fast food restaurants now offer whole-grain options for bread and buns. These can be a great source of fiber and can help you feel fuller longer. When ordering a sandwich or burger, look for whole-grain options and skip the white bread.
Don’t be afraid to customize your order
Fast food restaurants are often willing to customize orders to meet your dietary needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions or changes to your meal to make it more nutrient-forward.
Making healthier fast food choices is possible. Planning beforehand and being mindful of what you are consuming can help achieve this. Opting for grilled or baked options, avoiding sugary drinks, being mindful of portion sizes, choosing lean proteins, loading up on vegetables are just a few ways you can still eat fast food without giving up your nutrition goals.