Can fast food be part of a weight-loss or healthy diet plan? You might not
think so. In fact, you might even think that you can''t have a meal that''s both
quick and healthy.
But this isn''t necessarily so. An occasional stop at a fast-food restaurant
can fit into a healthy diet
plan. The key is to choose wisely.
Keep portion sizes
small. If the fast-food restaurant offers several sandwich sizes,
pick the smallest or order half a sandwich, if available. Bypass
hamburgers with two or three beef patties, which can pack more than 1,000
calories and 70 grams of fat. Instead, choose a regular- or
children''s-sized hamburger, which has about 250 to 300 calories. Also,
skip the large serving of French fries or onion rings and ask for a small
serving instead. This switch alone saves about 300 calories. Or better
yet, select a lower calorie option.Choose a healthier
side dish. Take advantage of healthy side dishes offered at many
fast-food restaurants. For example, instead of French fries choose a side
salad with low-fat dressing or a baked potato. Or add a fruit bowl or a
fruit and yogurt option to your meal. Other healthy choices include
apple or orange slices, corn on the cob, steamed rice, or baked potato
chips.Go for the greens. Choose a large entree
salad with grilled chicken, shrimp or garden vegetables with fat-free or
low-fat dressing on the side, rather than regular salad dressing, which
can have 300 or more calories per packet. Watch out for high-calorie
salads, such as those with deep-fried shells or those topped with breaded
chicken or other fried toppings. Also, skip salad extras such as cheese,
bacon bits, croutons and fried chips, which quickly increase your calorie
count.Opt for grilled
items. Fried and breaded foods, such as crispy chicken sandwiches
and breaded fish fillets, are high in fat and calories. Select grilled or
roasted lean meats — such as turkey or chicken breast, lean ham, or lean
roast beef.Have it your way.
Don''t settle for what comes with your sandwich or meal. Ask for healthier
options and substitutions. For example, ask for reduced-fat mayonnaise or
mustard on your sandwich. Or at a fast-food Mexican restaurant, request
salsa with your meal instead of shredded cheese and nacho cheese sauce.
Try to avoid special dressings, tartar sauce, sour cream and other
high-calorie condiments.Watch what you drink.
Many beverages contain a large number of calories. For example, a large
soda (32 ounces) has about 400 calories. Instead, order diet soda, water,
unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water or mineral water. Also, skip the
shakes and other ice-cream drinks, which can contain more than 1,000
calories and all of your saturated fat allotment for the day.