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Fast food and you

Updated on December 10, 2014


What are they?

Fast food chains make available standard ingredients and/or partially prepared foods and supplies to each restaurant of the chain through controlled supply channels. These typically offer a limited menu cooked in bulk in advance and kept hot, usually available ready for take away. Some have seating capacity. These began in the United States. A&W (1919) and White Castle (1921) were among the earliest ones. Today, McDonald's and KFC are multinational corporations.

The winner takes it all

Fast Food is immensely popular in USA and also across the globe. In a survey in USA, based on five criteria - wholesomeness and freshness of food, value for money, politeness of restaurant staff, speed of service, and cleanliness of the dining area - respondents allotted each fast food joint a grade out of 100. In-N-Out Burger emerged a clear winner with the maximum number of followers across the country. Its restaurants are available only in some states mostly on the West Coast of America. Close followers included outlets like Jason’s Deli, Chick-fil-A and Potbelly Sandwich Shop.

Those who could not make it

Based on the same criteria as above, they listed the worst food joints. The top loser was fast food chain Sbarro, specializing in New York-style pizza, followed by KFC, Church’s Chicken, McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos and Taco Bell.

How healthy is fast food?

Fast food is cheap, tasty, and above all, convenient, but is mostly high in fats, Sodium, and calories, low in nutrients and almost totally sans fiber. Having a healthy diet at fast food restaurants is a big challenge, and can be the weight watcher’s nightmare.

One can choose healthier options from the fast food menus. While occasional indulgence does not harm, moderation is the key both in frequency and composition. Some possible suggestions are:

  • Restrict the calorie count of your entire meal to 500 calories or less. Select foods that are low in saturated and trans-fats and high in protein and fiber.
  • Go for food cooked with minimal, low-Sodium salt.
  • Go for the small portions, e.g., in sandwiches, burgers, etc.
  • Go for lean meats cooked in little/no oil, avoid fried and breaded items.
  • Avoid deep-fried, pan-fried, breaded, creamy & crispy dishes
  • Avoid Sauce or dressing, or have them served on the side
  • Ask for whole-grain bread for sandwich.
  • Order water, diet soda, or unsweetened tea, rather than soda and lemonade

In a nutshell, fast food chains are a convenient option but need to be weighed carefully to remain healthy.


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