When you are out on the road and hungry, grabbing a fast food meal may be necessary at times. The problem with fast food is that it normally is loaded with calories, sugar, sodium, and fat. This can be a challenging situation if you are trying to eat healthy but you can make choices that can keep you on track with healthy eating. Here are a few tips to try:
Be investigative and plan. On your smartphone or tablet pull up the nutrition facts of items on the restaurant’s menu before ordering. Decide ahead of time what the best choice is and stick to your decision. Don’t assume that healthy sounding dishes are always your best option. Aim to keep your entire meal to 500 calories or less.
Don’t be afraid to special order. Make normal menu items healthier by asking for dressings, condiments and sauces on the side or by asking for double vegetables in place of another side.
Keep carbs under control. Look for foods that are higher in protein and lower in carbs. Stay away from pastas and breads. Consider taking off the top part of a bun and eating a sandwich open faced.
Check the sodium content in foods. Fast foods are known to be very high in sodium often causing people to exceed their daily limits.
Beware of what you drink!! Beverages can be a hidden source of sugar and calories. Your best bet is to choose calorie free beverages. Choose things like water, unsweetened iced tea or black coffee. Diet drinks can be used in moderation but be careful to not overconsume artificial sweeteners.
Watch the descriptions on menus. Alfredo, cream, and butter sauces will be high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sodium. Other words that should yield caution are deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, or au gratin. Aim to choose items listed as baked, steamed, or broiled.
Pay careful attention to portion size. Be mindful not to “up” size or “super” size items. These may seem like the best deal for your money but they certainly aren’t for your waistline. Our society has become conditioned to large portions of food being the norm. Also people tend to eat the amount of food that is in front of them and are usually satisfied by this amount, so scaling back portions control calories without making you feel deprived.
Focus on choosing healthy meats. Choose meats that are listed as roasted or grilled. Avoid fried and breaded items, like crispy breaded sandwiches and breaded fish fillets. Choose turkey, chicken, or roast beef. Stay away from processed meats like bologna, salami, sausage, and hot dogs.
Choose your side dishes very carefully. Stay away from high carbohydrate and fried side dishes such as French fries, onion rings, rice, noodles, chips, and mashed potatoes and gravy. Choose a side salad instead. Be careful not to overdo it on unhealthy dressings, croutons, etc. If possible forgo the sides all together. Do you really need those French fries??