Fast food may be a cheap, convenient, and filling meal option, but even one fast food meal can pack enough calories, sodium, and fat for an entire day or more. Eating fast food on a regular basis can lead to a variety of health problems, but as an informed customer, you can make healthier choices and still enjoy the price and convenience of fast food restaurants.
Fast food is low in nutrition and high in trans fat, saturated fat, sodium, and calories. Finding a healthy, well-balanced meal in most fast food restaurants can be a challenge, but there are always choices you can make that are healthier than others.
- Pay attention to menu descriptions. Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, breaded, creamy, crispy, or batter-dipped are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats, or sodium. Items with more vegetables and leaner meats tend to be lower in calories.
- Drink water with your food. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. Ordering water with lemon or unsweetened iced tea can cut down your calorie intake significantly.
- “Undress” your food. When choosing items, be aware of calorie- and fat-packed salad dressings, spreads, cheese, and toppings. For example, ask for a grilled chicken sandwich without the mayonnaise. You can ask for a packet of mustard or ketchup and add it yourself, controlling the amount you put on your sandwich.
- Special order. Many menu items would be healthier if made differently. Ask for your vegetables and main dishes to be served without the sauces, or for your salad dressing to be served on the side, so you can control the amount you use. If your food is fried or cooked in oil or butter, ask to have it broiled or steamed instead.
Following these guidelines can help you avoid the unhealthiest fast food options, but the doctors at Sports Medicine North suggest avoiding fast food restaurants altogether and choosing fresh, well balanced meals instead. If you have questions about following a healthy lifestyle, contact Sports Medicine North at (978) 278-3113.