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Approach Healthy Fast Food With Caution

While fast food restaurants advertise they're now serving healthier food, educated people realize there's a limit to what they can provide. Making sensible choices when turning to fast food is important to stay healthy and avoid the damaging effects some of these choices can cause.

Warning: Healthy Fast Food Can Be Misleading

Today’s fast-paced regimens mean we’re all about getting where we’re going faster, trying to get more done. We’re not taking as much time to sit down and eat anymore. Some people even try to eat while they’re driving, which is both dangerous and unhealthy. All the while we’re thinking to ourselves, there must be a better way.

Just because you’re eating on the go doesn’t mean you have to compromise your health or food standards. All it takes is a little understanding about the differences between a foolish choice and an educated one, and if necessary, how to improve upon those choices. Still, information about so-called “healthy” fast food can be deceiving.

The problem with fast food is, no matter how try to make the right decisions, you are still living under the umbrella of carb-heavy fried, salted, and sugared food. Advertisers try to hide the fact, but we know better. It’s worth a look to uncover the truth behind healthy fast-food choices.

Better Isn’t Always Good For You

Many fast food restaurants are migrating to menus with more healthy choices, which can be a bit misleading. While you may pride yourself on staying away from hamburgers and fries, you still may be heading for a sea of misinformation.

The fast food chain you’re visiting may say their choices are better than the normal food offered at the establishment, but they don’t mention how much it is better. Better is NOT always good. Even the “healthier” choices many restaurants offer are less nutritious or healthy than some better alternatives you could go for.

Even salads can be a haven for unhealthy foods. Beyond the greens that are included in smaller amounts, the benefit from such fresh ingredients is masked by the bacon bits, fried chicken nuggets, creamy dressings, and they’re smothered in. Eating at fast food restaurants doesn’t have to be a total loss, though. Making slight variations in your fast food meal plan can create better options than the ones you originally intended.

Eat Your Way, Not Their Way

Often the best options for healthy convenience foods are to look beyond the menu. Oatmeal is one of many choices sometimes offered by fast food chains, even thought the selection isn’t listed on their menu. Breakfast egg burritos have become popular recently, due to the lower calories and fat in a tortilla wrap as opposed to a biscuit.

When it comes to lunch or dinner, salads are the way to go. Put a healthy salad choice together with a serving of milk or juice and you’re choosing one of the healthiest meals a fast food place can offer. A light vinaigrette dressing saves almost 150 calories as an alternative to a creamy dressing. Use less dressing, and you save even more. Try grilled chicken instead of deep fried or barbecued chicken on your salad. Also, don’t forget that eating tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers with your lettuce doesn’t eliminate the extra calories and fat from piling cheese on top.

If you have to choose a burger and fries as part of your meal, order the smallest size burger you can buy, hold the mayo, and stick with milk, water, or juice to drink. Doing this cuts out another 200 calories from the burger alone. You can even substitute grilled chicken, but steer clear of anything breaded or fried.

As for bread, the calorie count of a “healthy” bun is enough to tip the scale in the wrong direction with fast food meals. Choose wisely; if it must be a hamburger with onions, ketchup, and cheese, lose the bun as a counter-weight toward a healthier meal. Don't forget to consider wraps whenever possible; they’re much lower in calories and fat than the all-too-common bun.

Better Places for Eating Fast

Fast food really becomes unhealthy when you pack on a full day's worth of calories with a super- sized meal and dessert. If you can’t shake the craving for a burger and fries, there is a way to make the healthiest decision you can.

Fast food chains are now required to display labels that disclose the nutritional value of their offerings. You can even check this information online, making it more convenient to take a look before you head out the door to grab the closest meal you can find. Compare the differences between your options and decide on the amount of unhealthy fat, salt, and sugar you’re willing to put in your body, for the sake of convenience.

This way, you don’t have to feel pressured into getting more than you bargained for, regardless of the cost savings! Simply put, your health is worth more than that. Know the nutrition facts before you purchase an unhealthy meal, and give yourself the opportunity to choose a healthier food source to satisfy your craving.

If the allure of fast food is too strong to resist, you can order take-out from a traditional restaurant. Many times, menu items at these establishments contain less trans fats and better quality ingredients, a difference worth driving for on a busy night. Look for area restaurants that offer call-in orders and convenient pick-up windows for a healthier meal in minutes.

Even your favorite grocery store can be a fast food option that provides a better quick meal. Many grocers now carry excellent salads and other deli foods that are ready to take home and eat right away.

A fresh rotisserie chicken, for instance, will give the whole family a hot, nutritious, meal that gives you a break from cooking and cleaning. Though we don’t always consider these options, they contribute to better health and are often just as close as fast food restaurants in town.

The best option would be to give up drive-through convenience foods entirely, but it is understandable why we sometimes crave fast food. The convenience factor is always tempting us, seemingly tailor-made for our busy lives. So, while cutting out fast food might be out of the question, making better choices is an option we should continually explore

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