Choosing healthier fast foods

A great resolution for the New Year is learning how to make healthier choices at fast food restaurants.

As 2013 quickly approaches, many begin to consider a New Year’s resolution. Many American’s choose a resolution to improve their health, lose weight or change their eating habits. One area to think about to improve your eating habits or even help with weight management, would be to choose a resolution to make healthier choices at fast food restaurants.

Fast foods have become a part of almost everyone’s diets. As we move into a New Year looking to make improvements in our eating habits, we can start with examining our fast foods choices. Believe it or not, you can make healthy fast-food choices. Knowing exactly what you are ordering and planning ahead can make a big difference in your food choices. Consider the following tips from Michigan State University Extension when eating at fast food restaurants:

  • Plan on eating lots of lower calorie fruits, vegetables and whole grains throughout the day if you will be eating a meal at a fast food restaurant.
  • Watch out for words like jumbo, giant, deluxe, biggie or super-sized. Larger portions mean more calories, fat, sugar, cholesterol and salt. Order a regular or junior-sized sandwich instead.
  • Choose grilled or baked sandwiches with meats such as lean roast beef, turkey or chicken breast or lean ham. Avoid adding double meats or the large size burgers.
  • Be cautious with high calorie salad dressings, mayonnaise and other sauces. Ask for these items on the side or for a smaller portion.
  • Order bean burritos, soft tacos, fajitas and other non-fried items when eating Mexican fast foods. Pile on extra lettuce, tomatoes and salsa. Watch out for deep-fried taco salad shells. A taco salad can have more than 1,000 calories!
  • Pass on the fries and ask for fruit cups or fruit slices, low-fat yogurt or other healthier alternatives
  • Pizza can be a good fast-food choice. Go for thin crust pizza with vegetable toppings. Limit yourself to one to two slices.
  • Order from the kids menu and you will consume smaller portions, less calories, fat and sodium.
  • Oder water or low fat milk rather than a high calorie, high sugar beverage
  • Be an informed consumer. Review fast foods menus and nutrition facts ahead of time, at the restaurant or on the internet so you know exactly what you are eating and how many calories, fat, etc., you will be consuming.

Use MyPlate as your guide for eating a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of foods. Eat a variety of foods in moderate amounts, limit the amount of fat, sugar and salt that you consume each day. Fast food meals can fit into a healthy diet, in moderation, especially if you are making healthier fast food choices.

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