Burgers, fries, and pies, oh my! We all know how tasty and addicting our favorite fast foods are. The cravings call us and sometimes it is just too difficult to say NO. In my unregistered dietician opinion, indulging is OK once in a while and restricting too much can do more harm than good. However, we should still strive for healthier options most of the time and maybe we can do this even at our favorite fast food restaurants. Here’s how!
1. Choose baked or grilled over fried
Whether it’s those greasy, delicious French fries or some sort of fried meat, fried foods tend to be very unhealthy for us. Anything with an abundance of oil usually contains unhealthy fats such as trans fats. It can also contribute to inflammation in our arteries and other cardiovascular problems. Instead choose foods that are baked or grilled because they usually contain less oil!
Examples: Grilled/baked chicken > fried chicken, baked potato/salad > French fries
2. Watch your portions!
I am in no way recommending restricting. It’s important to listen to your body. If you feel hungry, you probably have not had enough calories. Carbs are our friends! However, restaurants can sometimes give us bigger portions than we need. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to send the signal to your brain that you are full so give it time before you eat more than you need to. You may be satisfied but not know it yet.
3. Limit the sugary drinks
I understand. Sometimes you just want that weirdly satisfiying carbonated drink with your dinner but a lot of our favorite drinks are loaded with sugar. Sugar is already hidden in a lot of our foods. Just check the labels and opt for unsweetened teas, FRESH fruit juices and water. Diet drinks aren’t any better. 0 calories and 0 sugar usually means that a whole bunch of artificial substances have taken its place.
4. Beware of your sodium intake
This may be difficult to do this in places like McDonald’s or Burger King but a lot of our favorite fast foods have a lot of salt. Try and pick the options with less salt in them more often. It’ll most likely make you less bloated.
5. Add the condiments yourself!
Sugar and fats are usually hidden in our favorite condiments as well. This includes mayonnaise, ketchup, and salad dressings. Restaurants are usually extremely “generous” when putting these things in our foods so whenever possible ask for your food without these condiments or on the side and add them yourself so that you can control how much of it you are going to eat. For the salad dressings, the creamier ones tend to be the more unhealthy ones. Don’t drown your nutritious salads in trans fats!
6. Choose whole grain foods!
The less processed the better; it is as simple as that. A good example of this is brown rice v. white rice. White rice is stripped of its fiber, making it a little more difficult to digest as opposed to whole grain foods such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, whole grain breads and pastas. Next time you go to Chipotle, try the brown rice over the white or next time you get a burger try a whole grain bun.
Making these healthier options may make you feel less sluggish, as most fast foods tend to make us feel. So go ahead and enjoy that not so healthy food once in a while but also don’t forget to take care of yourself with the healthiest of foods.