Getting Fast Food? Our Tips & Quiz Will Help You Make Healthy Choices
When life gets busy, you can find yourself hungry and tired with kids in tow. So it’s understandable to head to your favorite drive-through. When this happens, you may feel like it doesn’t matter which menu item you order, assuming that all fast food is high in calories. But think again – some fast food options can be healthy!
Fast food restaurants are increasingly catering to health conscious consumers, so take some time to learn how to make the best choices.
Here are Some Tips to Help You Make Your Next Fast Food Run a Healthier Experience
Get smart online
The website HealthyDiningFinder.com allows you to search your zip code for healthier fast food in your neighborhood. Keep a record of the healthier choices in your smart phone, or keep a list in the car, so when you’re in a bind you can steer your family towards the best choice.
Consider calories as a guideline
Remember that a typical woman should consume about 1,800 calories a day, while a typical man should consume about 2,000 calories a day. You can determine your personal calorie needs by visiting choosemyplate.gov or working with a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Pay attention to sodium
Don’t forget to look at more than just calories. Sodium is important too, especially if you have prehypertension or hypertension. Try to limit your sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg per day for healthy individuals and 1,500 mg a day for those with prehypertension or hypertension.
Avoid eating in the car
It’s tempting to dig in right after the warm food has been handed to you. But try sitting in the restaurant or driving home to sit down and enjoy it at the kitchen table. This will help you eat mindfully and ensure you feel fully satisfied from your meal.
When in doubt, Google it
By typing in two different food choices in Google, you can usually determine which item is the healthier option. For example, typing “pizza vs. fried chicken” will show you that fried chicken may be the healthier choice.
Are You Fast Food Savvy?
Take our quick quiz below to test your fast food savvy and see if you’ve been making the best choices. You may be surprised by the answers.
Which is a better choice: McDonald’s Big Mac or its Bacon Clubhouse Grilled Chicken sandwich?
Believe it or not, the Big Mac has fewer calories, sodium, and carbohydrates, even though the Clubhouse is made with grilled chicken. Remember to ditch the high-calorie toppings like bacon and cheese, and read the nutrition information before choosing.
Which is a better choice: McDonald’s McChicken sandwich or its Premium McWrap Southwest Grilled Chicken?
While the wrap may appear to be a better choice at first glance, it actually contains lots of calorie-rich extras that make it a calorie-bomb. The crunchy, deep fried tortilla strips, cheese and creamy ranch dressing give the wrap more saturated fat and sodium than the deep fried and breaded McChicken sandwich!
True or False? There isn’t a big difference between ordering Popeye’s chicken strips or spicy chicken tenders.
False. They may sound similar, but they are cooked much differently. The spicy tenders have two times the calories, two times the saturated fat, three times the sodium and 15 times the grams of carbohydrates than the chicken strips!
True or False? Everyone says to remove the skin from chicken items, but it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.
False. At Popeye’s, the mild chicken breast with skin has 350 calories, 8 g carbohydrates, 7 g saturated fat, and 1,130 mg sodium. By ordering without the skin, you will reduce the calories by about 2/3, to 120 calories, and reduce the sodium by about 1/3, to 720mg.
True or False? Bowls are always a good choice because they skip the carbs.
False. This is why it is important to look at nutrition information – sometimes items are not as healthy as we might expect. For example, at Popeye’s, the chicken bowl contains 570 calories, 44 g carbohydrates, 10 g saturated fat, and 1600 mg sodium.
That’s more than 2/3 of the recommended sodium for a healthy person and more than 100% of the sodium for someone with hypertension or prehypertension, not to mention 100% of the saturated fat intake for men and women.
Remember, eating fast food shouldn’t be an everyday habit. But when you do choose to eat it, remember our tips to pick the best options on the menu. Usually by taking a closer look, you’ll be able to make a better choice.