Eating Healthy at Fast Food Restaurants

The title is an oxymoron. (In fact I looked up the word oxymoron to make sure I was using the word correctly.) Most people would just look at me crazy if I said that. But it is possible because fast food restaurants nowadays realize so many of their customers are looking for healthier alternatives when they eat out.

As a kid, I've always liked going to fast food restaurants. They seemed a lot more fun than eating at home because you got to eat things that your mother wouldn't normally let you eat. You get to drink soda instead of milk or juice and you got to eat funny shaped pieces of nuggets of fried chicken or pizza. Hamburgers and fries were fun to eat because you used your hands instead of utensils. And of course, what kid could pass up the playground inside the restaurant. Eating at home was downright boring; your parents made you eat vegetables and you had to sit at the dinner table where the chairs were normal looking. Growing up, fast food restaurants were exotic. The only time my family went to a fast food restaurant was after church on Sunday. And the whole world seemed to be doing the same thing because these restaurants were packed.

Things are different now. It seems to me that more families go to fast food restaurants instead of staying home having a regular dinner. In fact I had read somewhere that most families now don't even have dinner together, which is a sad trend. Boring as the dinners were in my house as a kid, it was the only time when everyone in the family was together and got caught up on what everybody was doing.

When I enter McDonald's or Wendy's or Burger King, I am amazed at the healthy choices that are offered to me that I wasn't aware of before. There are various salads and grilled chicken sandwiches available. Kentucky Fried Chicken, which I considered the king of artery-clogging food not only offers grilled chicken combos but also green beans as a side dish and salads as an entree. Burger King offers a veggie burger and McDonald's even offers soup! The restaurants are also eager to give the nutrition information on their entire menu.

So it is possible to eat healthy at a fast food restaurant. I've enjoyed the salads the most. Wendy's Mandarin Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken is the bomb. And this is not to say that the fast food restaurants have become proponents of the healthy way of eating meaning that they'll give up serving french fries and fatty shakes. However, they are offering healthier alternatives to the usual burger combos. Now, we have yet to see whether people will give up their big hamburgers with the medium fries and large soda. In fact, I don't think that will happen. The hamburgers seem to have gotten bigger and the regular size seems to have gotten larger. The problem really is about the size of the portions.

The amount of food that you get at fast food restaurants is huge. The caloric intake alone on one value meal is breathtaking. In other parts of the world, whole communities can feed on one value meal. Okay, I may be exaggerating, but really the value meal is a lot to eat and that is why more people in America are fatter. People should realize that their hunger would be sated by eating that one big burger. They don't need the fries. What trips people up is that they get more food for the money by having the combo instead of just buying the big burger and soda, and who can turn down a bargain?

What I've ended up doing is ordering the kid's meal. The portions are just right for me and I like drinking milk because I know I'm getting some calcium. Yep, it's like being a kid again.

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