A last-minute emergency comes up at work. Your daughter’s dance practice ends late. Your commute is derailed by snarls of traffic. We don’tplan to eat at fast-food restaurants, but sometimes it’s tough to avoid. Despite your best intentions, you might find yourself with only drive-through options in-between the endless obligations that fill up your day.Although fast food should only be an occasional meal on your medical weight loss plan, there are ways to make it healthier. Let’s take a look at some fast food choices you can make that you can live with.
- Look for hidden buzzwords. ‘Crispy,’ ‘crunchy,’ ‘creamy,’ ‘smothered,’ ‘breaded,’ and ‘double’ or ‘triple’ anything spells trouble. Avoid fast food selections with these descriptions. Also, it’s nearly impossible to find a ‘fish filet’ that’s not fried, so avoid those as well, unless you know it’s been prepared without added fat. Healthier words to look for include ‘grilled,’ ‘steamed,’, ‘broiled,’ or ‘baked.’
- ‘Unpack’ your food. Even fast foods with ‘healthy’ sounding words can have condiments or toppings that pile on the fat and calories. For example, many grilled chicken sandwiches include mayonnaise, and that baked potato may be loaded with sour cream and butter. Get rid of sauces, cheese, bacon, and other toppings that add lots of fat and calories to your sandwich. The same goes for salads: Many will have cheese, crispy tortillas, and dressing on them, so request them without these items, with a low-calorie dressing on the side.
- Order a la carte. So-called fast food ‘value meals’ can provide more calories in a single meal than you need all day. Skip the fries, chips, and drink, and order just a small sandwich or wrap instead. Often, fast food kids’ menus will have smaller portion sizes and offer healthier sides like fruit, so don’t overlook these options.
- Think beyond the traditional meal. Fruit and yogurt can be a nutritious alternative to a burger; some Mexican fast-food chains have healthy and delicious tomato- and broth-based soups. Some places will offer oatmeal with dried fruit all day long, so don’t be afraid to ask.
- Skip the soda. Hopefully, we don’t even need to tell you why you should avoid regular soda; just a small one can have 200 calories. But even diet soda may not be the healthiest choice, either. Instead, ask for good old-fashioned water (and you’ll save yourself a couple dollars at the same time)!
- Live with it. Once you’ve decided to eat fast food, make the best choice you can and make peace with your decision. If you’re in a hurry, you’re probably stressed, so take a deep breath and try to relax. When your food arrives, try to eat it slowly—and out of your car, if possible. Savor each bite and ditch the guilt. Instead, give yourself credit for making the healthiest choice you could.
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