There comes a time in almost every diet plan where you find yourself sitting in a fast food establishment – or, as the case may be, frantically going through the drive-thru as you rush off to whatever else your day may bring.
As you do this, anxiety starts to build in your stomach. You’ve been doing so well on your diet and now you are about to ruin it in one fell swoop.
It’s no secret that most fast food menu items are loaded with fat, refined carbs, and calories, and are the opposite of what a healthy diet should be.
That said, if you are willing to put in a little extra effort, you can uncover hidden nutritional gems in a fast food restaurant that won’t cause too much damage to your diet plan.
Always remember, eating light when dining out is essential. You’re far better off going for a light meal now and then simply adding more to your next meal – which you can prepare yourself – to make up for it.
Let’s look at how to eat right when dining fast food at a few different types of establishments.
The Burger Place
Perhaps the most commonly frequented fast food restaurants are burger joints. Be it McDonald’s, Harvey’s, Burger King or otherwise, one thing is certain and that is there is no shortage of high calorie options.
Most burgers easily come in at 500+ calories and if you plan to add a side of fries to that, tack on another 600 or more. This makes for a meal that, for many people, is well over half of your daily food intake.
The solution? Get smart. Most burger restaurants will have a grilled chicken burger option, so start there. Order your grilled chicken and then request it with no mayonnaise or ‘special sauce’ (Hint: Never trust the ‘special sauce’).
If you’re on a low carb diet, you might consider removing half the bun from this sandwich, or forgoing the bread altogether and getting that chicken on top of a salad (if they don’t have a chicken salad option in the first place).
If you feel like you need something that contains potato, avoid French fries at all costs. There’s simply no way to make these healthier.
Instead, opt for a baked potato (if they have one) and top it with some salsa rather than traditional high fat source cream or butter.
If you opt for these choices, you’ll be eating wisely.
The Taco Joint
Moving on, you might find yourself stopping at a taco or burrito place. While a bit less common than a burger place, these definitely have no shortage of locations as well.
Here, the first tip is to opt for one type of ‘shell’ only. Don’t do a soft shell in a hard shell. That’s just double the calories, double the carbs, and double the fats.
If you can, choose a softer shell. Hard shells have been fried and so, have more unwanted fats.
Next, opt for grilled chicken over beef or steak for your meat filling or, if you prefer, try some beans instead. Beans are a much lower fat option and will give you a good dose of fiber as well.
As you top that taco or burrito, keep the sour cream off. It’s high in saturated fat and provides no real nutrition. Instead, try guacamole if it’s offered. Request them to only put on a little, but feel good since it’s a healthier form of fat that your body needs.
Finally, be sure that you only eat one. Don’t go in for two or more, even if the price seems right. One is more than enough to fuel you until you can get to a healthier meal.
The Pizza House
The next place you might find yourself stopping is the pizza house. The smell of freshly baked pizza is like none other, and you may be tempted to pick up the most delicious looking slice you can find.
Instead, try and seek out a thin crust pizza. This alone can save you at least a hundred calories per slice, if not more. The thinner the base, the better.
Then, watch your toppings. Try choosing the vegetarian pizza or go for one that contains prawns or ham, both of which will be lower in fat and calories than beef or pepperoni.
And, the more vegetables on your slice, the better.
Apart from these choices, you won’t be able to alter much else on your pizza as in the fast food restaurant, it’ll already be prepared and waiting for you.
If you find yourself in a sit-down pizza house, then you can request that they use much less cheese, which will reduce the fat and sodium content.