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How to Make Healthy Choices at Fast Food Joints

Updated on March 27, 2011

How can you blend convenience with healthiness?

It can be difficult to find healthy options at fast food restaurants, but it is becoming easier. With so much emphasis on health, obesity, and portion sizes in the news these days, fast food restaurants are quickly jumping (at least partially) on the healthy bandwagon by advertising options on their menues that are low-fat and healthier.

Although it is best to eat well-balanced nutritious meals, sometimes you need something as convenient as a fast food restaurant. Or, you might simply want to fulfill a craving. However you end up deciding on fast food, remember to make the healthiest choices you can.

Tips to Remember

  • Order Salads (but go easy on the dressing--it might do you in)
  • Order Grilled Sandwiches (skip the fried and breaded ones)
  • Watch Out for Condiments and Extras (ketchup, "special sauce," sour cream, cheese, "super-size")
  • Drink Ice Water, Juice, or Milk (skip the soda)
  • Choose Chicken (beef has more fat)
  • Have Fruit or Side Salads (instead of fries - but watch out for calorie laden dressings)
  • Downsize with the Kiddie Meal or junior size (sometimes it is the perfect portion)
  • Share (split the order of fries with a friend)
  • Ask for Different Sauces (mustard instead of mayo, salsa instead of three different cheeses)
  • Skip the Cheese (simply adding cheese to a burger can add over 100 calories to your meal)

Find Healthier Foods on a Budget!

Under $5:

Subway: Various 6" sub sandwiches (under 6 grams of fat)

Under $4:

Many fast food chains offer yummy salads

Under $2:

McDonalds: Grilled Chicken Sandwich (10 grams of fat, 230 calories)

Wendy's: Jr. Hamburger (9 grams of fat, 270 calories)

Some places, like Jack in the Box, offer sides of fruit for around 99¢.

Skip Dessert--sure, it might be on the dollar menu, but the costs and calories quickly add up.

Look for new menu items - many fast food joints are trying to provide healthier options.

For example, Taco Bell now has "diet" items on its menu. But don't just believe what these places say - most will provide nutritional information if you ask (and many places already post it on the menu) - so check out the facts for yourself.

Choose the Healthier Option:

What You're Eating
A Better Choice
What You Save
Beef'n Cheddar = 440 calories & 21 grams fat
Junio Roast Beef = 270 calories & 9 grams fat
170 calories & 12 grams fat
Burger King
Orginial Whopper = 700 calories & 39 grams fat
Hamburger = 310 calories & 12 grams fat
390 calories & 27 grams fat
Double Thickburger = 1240 calories & 90 grams fat
Thickburger = 850 calories & 57 grams fat
390 calories & 33 grams fat
Big Mac = 560 calories & 30 grams fat
Hamburger = 260 calories & 9 grams fat
300 calories & 21 grams fat
Big Bacon Classic = 580 calories & 29 grams fat
Jr. Hamburger = 280 calories & 9 grams fat
300 calories & 20 grams fat
SuperSonic Cheeseburger = 839 calories & 55 grams fat
Jr. Burger = 353 calories & 21 grams fat
486 calories & 34 grams fat
Five Guys Burgers & Fries
Bacon Cheeseburger = 920 calories & 62 grams fat
Little Hamburger = 480 calories & 26 grams fat
440 calories & 36 grams fat
In-N-Out Burger
Double-Double = 670 calories & 41 grams fat
Hamburger = 390 calories & 19 grams fat
280 calories & 22 grams fat

You can fit fast food into your healthy diet - just remember to eat it in moderation and to choose the healthiest menu items you can.

While you can find healthier options at fast food restaurants, it is important to remember that you should only eat fast food in moderation. If you choose fast food for lunch, opt for an even healthier dinner.

Just remember to skip the tortilla chips, or order a baked potato instead of a burger, the next time you hit the fast food joint.

Your heart, hips, and wallet will thank you.

Learn about fast food around the world by clicking here.


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