When You’ve Just Gotta Get a Fast Food Fix

I don’t think it would be inaccurate to call America a “fast food nation.” In fact, I’ve read statistics that say that everyday 1-in-4 Americans eat fast food. That’s just amazing to me!

In today’s economy, we would all benefit from eating at home and wisely selecting the menus for our families. However, sometimes you are on the road like I am frequently, and you really do have to dine out. Unfortunately, when you find yourself in that situation—fast food—is the cheapest option. But far from the healthiest.

So I rely on the motto “education is power.” If you, as a consumer, educate yourself and plan a little ahead of time you can make better choices. And to the credit of fast food restaurants, some of them have actually modified their menus to be healthier or at the very least have begun offering less detrimental options. (For example, I learned early on during my time on The Biggest Loser that Subway offers a “Fresh Fit” menu that offers many wonderful options.)

Did you know that California, New York City and a good number of other states have passed laws requiring chain restaurants to post nutritional details? Similar legislation was introduced in my home state of Florida this year, but went nowhere. So now the topic is headed to Washington DC, where similar laws would set national standards. So don’t be afraid to ask to see that information prior to ordering.

Health Magazine polled the nation’s 100 largest fast-food chains and then based on the information it gathered, released its list of America’s Top Ten Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants. (You can read about the findings on Health.com.)

I wasn’t surprised at some of them. For example, Panera Bread was #1. They offer a wide variety and whole grain bread options as well as half-size portions of soups, salads and sandwiches.

If you love Mexican food, Chipotle came in at #6. They won high praise for fresh ingredients and commitment to organic options.

But here’s a shocker: McDonald’s came in at the #8 spot. I mention them because there’s a McDonald’s on every corner and it’s good to know that it is possible make better choices when visiting there if it’s your only option.

For example, instead of fries you can order apple dippers. They also offer low-fat milk or fruit juice instead of soda. And a safe bet instead of a burger is a grilled chicken sandwich or snack wraps; both are relatively low-cal options (just skip the mayo).

As a recap, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind when you have to dine out fast-food-style:

  • Ask for the nutritional information so you can make the best choice possible.
  • Drink water with your meal instead of soda. It will make you feel fuller and offers zero calories.
  • Choose grilled or broiled food options.
  • Ask for a salad or fruit cup instead of fries. And when you select a salad, get one with lots of greens.
  • If you’ve just got to have an ice cream fix, try frozen yogurt instead. It will give you the same sensation at a fraction of the calories.

With today’s busy lifestyles, we’ve all got to make compromises somewhere. And sometimes it means we can’t plan a succulent, healthy family meal. Sometimes we do have to grab a quick bite to eat on the road.

But remember, success in losing or maintaining your weight really is about smart choices. It’s not about starving yourself, eating only grapefruit or running everything through a power juicer. Think about portion control and about what wholesome foods you want to put into your body.

The results will be well worth the effort.

About Julie Hadden

I'm Julie Hadden and for the past few years I've been on quite journey. My experience on Season 4 of "The Biggest Loser" resulted in a total transfomation in my life. What started out being about what I could "lose" turned more into what I "gained." God revealed great truths to me about the infinite WORTH we all possess in His eyes and I'm passionate about sharing what I learned through this process. View all posts by Julie Hadden

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