Fast Food Tips

Most of us know that eating fast food is not the best nutritional option. However, it is convenient and most of us eat fast food at least once a week.

It is easy to say, "Well, I'm eating fast food, I might as well order anything I want. It's all bad for me anyway." On the other hand, you can turn a trip through the drive-through into a meal that is satisfying and won't add extra calories and grams of fat to your diet. Follow the few tips listed below and transform how you approach fast food.

Pay Attention to menu descriptions. Menu items that are high in calories and fat are most often described as crispy, crunchy, deep-fried, beer-battered, breaded, creamy and cheesy. Look for items that are described are grilled, lean, steamed and fresh. If you are unclear about how an item on the menu has been prepared, don't be afraid to ask.

Dress your meal wisely. Dressings, spreads, creams, and cheese carry a lot of hidden calories to any meal. Ask for the dressing on the side and order everything plain. That way you can add the condiments yourself and know exactly how much you are consuming. Always ask for light dressing and mayo. Remember that one packet of ketchup has about 15 calories and one packet of mustard has about 3.5 calories.

Avoid the drink machines. One 32-oz regular Coca Cola has 425 calories! That can easily take the calorie count of your meal to over 1,000 calories! Lemonade and fruit juice contain a lot of sugars and excess calories as well. Go for plain old water or regular, not sweet, tea. Diet soda doesn't have any calories, but it does contain sodium, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine, all things you should moderate in your daily intake.

Avoid supersized portions. A typical portion size at a restaurant contains over 1,000 calories and is the equivalent to two meals. Opt for the smallest portions possible. The amount of fries you would get in a kid's meal at the average fast food restaurant is the correct portion size for adults, about 10-15 fries. At the very least, order small or medium sizes, never large or extra-large.

Be mindful. Take the time to pay attention to how much you are eating and listen to your body. Managing your portion sizes, especially while eating out, takes a great deal of effort. It takes our bodies time to register how much food you have eaten. If you eat too quickly, you run the risk of over-consuming which can lead to weight gain.

Weigh Your Options

Less Healthy Better Options
Double-patty burger with cheese, bacon, mayo and special sauce Single-patty burger without cheese, bacon, mayo and special sauce
Fried chicken sandwich Grilled chicken sandwich
Fried fish sandwich Veggie burger
Salad with bacon, cheese and ranch dressing Garden salad with chicken and low fat dressing
Breakfast burrito with steak English muffin with egg
French fries Small baked potato or side salad
Milkshake Small yogurt parfait
Caesar salad Garden salad
Foot-long sub Six-inch sub
Thick crust meat lovers pizza Thin crust veggie pizza