Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight, or who just makes a habit of eating healthful, wholesome food, knows to steer clear of fast food restaurants. Those double decker cheeseburgers, fried chicken sandwiches, french fries, and milkshakes can wreak havoc on your best intentions.
Sometimes fast food restaurants are unavoidable. If you’re on the road and there’s nothing else available, or your children are clamoring for the toy inside the kids’ meal, you might not have any alternate food options.
But that doesn’t mean you have to cave or cheat. Here’s our guide to eating healthy at fast food joints!
Stopping at a fast-casual tex-mex place like Chipotle, Qdoba or Moe’s? Skip the burrito, the guacamole (it costs extra, anyway!), and any soup or salad that comes in a dish made out of a deep-fried tortilla.
Burrito bowls can be a good choice, though, if you skip the rice, cheese, and sour cream. Load up on beans, a lean protein like chicken, and fajita veggies. To boost the flavor of your bowl, add in low-cal extras like cilantro, Pico de gallo or salsa, and black olives.
As long as you’re very careful about your order, not even hamburger places are off-limits. Opt for a plain burger without mayo or “special sauces,” and ask for extra lettuce, tomato, and red onion.
Or try a grilled chicken sandwich, again with extra veg. Mustard adds a kick without adding calories, but be careful with ketchup, which is loaded with sugar and salt. Another option here is to go bun-less and have your burger wrapped in lettuce.
If you find yourself at Wendy’s, try their famous chili — a large is just 310 calories and will fill you up. Their baked potatoes can also be good choices, as long as you limit toppings.
A word to the wise: don’t be fooled by chains’ healthy-sounding options, like salads. While some fast food salads fit into a healthy lifestyle, others are calorie bombs. Anything with fried chicken, creamy dressings, and high-fat extras like nuts or crunchy noodles should be on your blacklist.
Pizza can be an indulgence, but there are some healthier options. Most weight loss programs for women don’t explicitly forbid any food, but advise making modifications and exercising portion control.
Some chains offer “garden” varieties; in general, the more vegetables you can pile on your fast food offerings, the better!
If you have a choice between thin and thick crust, thin crust is the clear winner.
Either way, keep your intake to one slice, but be wary of sodium levels, and work to consume less sodium in the rest of your day’s meals.
If you bypass the meatballs and melted cheese, sub shops can be relatively healthful. Turkey breast is a safe bet, especially paired with a whole wheat roll, fresh veggies galore, and mustard instead of mayo.
Naturally, you should also say “no thank you” to any combo meal that would add chips, a cookie, or a soft drink to your lunch. Drink water instead, or choose low-fat milk for the calcium.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you’re on the go, so you can feel good about your choices at fast food joints!