You are probably asking yourself… “Can fast food be healthy?”
If you are in a hurry and hungry, fast food is the best option. From price to taste, it’s the perfect food choice in some situations. Though if you regularly eat out at fast food restaurants, it is difficult to follow a healthy diet.
Usually, fast food is loaded with calories, unhealthy fat and sodium - you will get your daily intake of these in one meal alone. Fast food is also low in nutrients as vegetables and fruits are usually at a minimum or not present at all. It is also low in fibre which you definitely need for your body to handle this type of food.
We have mentioned all the negatives, but you don’t need to avoid fast food entirely.
The key is moderation, as to stay healthy you need not make fast food a regular habit. It is also very important to know what to order when you are there. Items on the fast food menu are all very tempting- we know how hard it is to resist sometimes.
How can fast food be healthy then? This can be tricky if you are watching your weight or your health. To find that perfect well-balanced meal in fast food restaurants can be a challenge. But you can opt for the healthier choices on the menu. Here are a few tips that can help you eat healthy at fast food restaurants.
Keep Your Entire Meal to 500 Calories Maximum
We usually eat an average of 900 calories per fast food meal and this amount is very often underestimated by 150-200 calories. Next time you are choosing a meal at your favourite fast food restaurant, don’t guess the calories. Most fast food chains have the nutritional info on their website, some even have it onsite. Make good use of this information for your health.
Bring your own healthy add-ons
Even if you are keeping the calories low and ordering wisely, the meal will definitely lack in something. Be it fibre, vitamins and other nutrients. You can keep a “healthy pack” with you. For toppings you can have dried fruits, nuts and seeds, or bring your own cheese and yoghurt.
Choose foods that are low in fat
This might not be an easy feat as most fast food items are full of saturated fat. Go for healthier options like whole grains, salads and steer clear of anything that contains trans fats.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If there are items on the menu that you are not sure about, don’t be afraid to ask. You can even request a few tweaks and substitutes if there are any healthier options available (toppings for example). You may also choose to be served without dressing or for it to be served on the side. For your sandwich, you can ask if whole-grain bread is available.
Keep an eye on your sodium intake
In most fast food chains, not much attention is paid to the amount of salt being added to food. It is definitely not as you would serve yourself at home. It is not easy to keep count of how much sodium you consume when eating fast food but you can request your burger or meat being cooked without added salt to try to minimize the damage.
Try to reduce condiments and dressings
Some salad dressings, spreads, sauces and other sides such as sour cream are usually high in calories and fats. Mayonnaise in particular is very high in calories. Try switching to mustard or no sauces at all to keep your calories low.
Avoid soft drinks and sugary drinks
You may choose to stick with water when having fast food. Soft drinks are packed with calories as they are mostly sugar. An average large soda has around 300 calories, which is already high whilst considering the calories from your food as well. Don’t think of shakes as healthier options, they are even worse with up to 800 calories. Instead, you can order water, diet soda or any unsweetened drinks.
Skip sides when possible
Most menu items at fast food restaurants come with one or more side dishes. One of the favourites is french fries. Ask yourself if you really need those fries. A sandwich or a burger alone should be enough for a meal. However, if your meal doesn’t feel complete without the fries, get the smallest size available to avoid a few hundred calories.
We hope these tips will help you choose your fast food meals wisely while still enjoying them as much.