Making Fast Food Friendlier

September 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

Feeding your family nutritious meals between all your daily activities can be a challenge. While you zoom back and forth between work, soccer practice, the dance recital, the PTA meeting and picking up the dry cleaning, you’re lucky to find time to grab a meal at the drive-thru.

If you must eat on the go, fast food can be heart-healthy food if you know what to look for and order, and have the will power to follow through. With a little bit of effort, you can ensure that the fast-food meals you choose fall within a healthy dietary pattern. Here are some tips to make fast food healthier for you and your family members:

  • Pass on the “value-size.” When you super-size, the size of your fries isn’t the only thing that gets bigger. Super-sizing a food item inevitably increases the amount of fat, added sugars, sodium and calories you consume.
  • Skip the sides. Eating a burger or sandwich by itself is often filling enough. If you must have a side, consider ordering a fruit cup or side salad. Most fast food restaurants now offer them.
  • Avoid double meat and bacon. A serving size of meat is 2-3 ounces — about the size of a deck of cards. You’re probably getting well over that with a single meat patty. Bacon is high in calories and fat with little nutrient content. Order pickles, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard and ketchup instead to add flavor without fat.
  • Try the grilled chicken sandwich. Poultry without skin is significantly leaner than the meats most fast-food companies use in their burgers, and it’s a much healthier option than breaded, fried-chicken sandwiches.
  • Eat your sandwich open-faced. By eating only half the bun, you can eliminate unnecessary calories. Also, ask for a wheat or whole-grain bun.
  • Skip the mayo and other sauces. These dressings and sauces add unnecessary calories.
  • Drink water, diet soda or low-fat milk. Regular sodas are loaded with sugars, which have calories you don’t need.
  • Choose a baked potato over French fries, but have it with vegetables or fat-free or low-fat sour cream or margarine instead of butter, full-fat sour cream or cheese.
  • Find out the nutritional content of fast-food items by visiting the chain’s Web site to help identify the healthiest choices. Some restaurants post this information near the counter or provide it in pamphlet form.

Source: American Heart Association

Entry filed under: Nutrition.

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