Fast food has a reputation for being unhealthy — and with good reason. Much of it is loaded with calories, fat and salt. But you can make healthy choices when you eat fast food. You just need to know what to look for. Here are a few ways to make healthier choices the next time you’re eating out.
Choose grilled or broiled over fried. Look for grilled or broiled chicken or fish on sandwiches, wraps or salads. These options are much healthier than fried foods.
Order lean meats. When ordering sandwiches, choose lean turkey, ham or chicken instead of meatballs or other fatty options. And ask for a whole-wheat bun to add extra fiber to your meal.
Have a plain burger. Burgers are the ultimate fast food. They may not be the healthiest option, but you don’t have to avoid them completely. Choose a single patty and skip extras like cheese and bacon. Ask for extra lettuce and tomato instead.
Choose salads carefully. Salads can be a healthy option, but be careful. A salad topped with croutons, bacon bits, meat and regular dressing can have more calories and fat than a large burger. Choose a salad that contains mostly vegetables, and ask for low-calorie dressing on the side instead of served on top. That way you can dip and only use as much dressing as you need.
Think small. Many fast food places offer larger sizes for just a little more money. While these options may seem good for your wallet, they’re not so good for your waistline. They add extra calories, fat, sugar and salt. When ordering, stick with regular or junior-size portions.
Watch your sides. It’s tempting to order a side of fries or onion rings with your meal. Skip these high-fat options and choose a side salad or fruit instead. Or, order a small side of fries and share it.
Choose drinks without sugar. A regular soda adds 280 extra calories to your meal. Choose water, diet soda, or fat-free milk instead.
Check your condiments. You may not think about what goes on your sandwich or other fast food, but mayonnaise and other sauces add calories and fat. Add flavor with salsa or mustard, and avoid sour cream and special sauces.
Look for nutrition information. Many fast food companies have nutrition information online, or you can ask for it when you get to the counter. Some even highlight healthier choices right on their menus. You can also use online tools to help you make healthy choices.
By making these changes to your next fast food order, you can eat healthier and still enjoy the restaurants you love.
Try these healthy options
Heading out for a quick meal? Here are a few of the healthier menu options available at popular fast food restaurants in and around Detroit:
• Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken: 290 calories, 2.5 g saturated fat
• Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich: 350 calories, 2 g saturated fat
• BK Veggie Burger without mayonnaise: 320 calories, 1 g saturated fat
• Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich without mayonnaise: 400 calories, 2 g saturated fat
• Honey BB Sandwich: 320 calories, 1 g saturated fat
• Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast: 220 calories, 2 g saturated fat
• BBQ Baked Beans: 210 calories, 0 g saturated fat
• Bean Burrito: 400 calories, 4.5 g saturated fat
• Fresco Chicken Soft Taco: 140 calories, 1 g saturated fat
BURGER KING® USA Nutritionals: Core, Regional and Limited Time Offerings, August 2017. Burger King Corporation, whttp://www.bk.com/pdfs/nutrition.pdf.
Calorie King: Food Search, www.calorieking.com/foods.
“Eating Fast and Healthy.” Let’s Move Milwaukee, city.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/Groups/healthAuthors/HBHA/PDFs/Lets-Move-MKE/EatingFastandHealthy.pdf.
“Eating Fast Food.” American Heart Association, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/DiningOut/Eating-Fast-Food_UCM_301473_Article.jsp.
“Food Choices” American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/weight-loss/food-choices/.
Full Nutrition Information; All Items. Taco Bell Corporation, www.tacobell.com/nutrition/information.
McDonald's USA Nutrition Facts for Popular Menu Items. McDonald’s Corporation, nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/nutritionfacts.pdf .
Nutrition Information. KFC Corporation, www.kfc.com/nutrition/pdf/kfc_nutrition.pdf.
“Easting Out” American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/food-tips/eating-out/.