Fast lives, fast foods, good choices! How to choose healthy at an American drive-thru
Help yourself beat the obesity epidemic by making healthier and smarter choices at fast-food restaurants by understanding these easy tips and tricks to making better choices.
Does it shock you that more than one out of three adults in the U.S. are obese? How about that one in every three Americans have high blood pressure? Did you know over 25 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, with an additional estimated 79 million people who have prediabetes? Many people blame fast-food for this problem, which is always a hot topic for debate. You should know that many fast-food chains are making a great effort to help fight these health epidemics by offering you, the consumer, healthier options. Fast-food restaurants are always going to be around, just like cell phones, so how can you make better choices when you have to eat fast-food.
First of all, it is important that you try to eat frequent small meals throughout the day. This helps our body stay full of energy, so we don’t get those cravings for high fat and high sugar foods. Also, make sure that you are drinking water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you wait until you’re thirsty, it is estimated you are already one to three percent dehydrated. These two easy practices can help you stay energized and avoid unhealthy eating habits.
What about those days where you’re rushed and don’t have time to make food, so fast-food is all you have? For some of us, these restaurants are all that are close to home, so it’s hard to eat anywhere else. Well lucky for us, many fast-food chains are starting to make an effort to provide healthier options. Here’s a list of some trending items, ways food can be ordered, and options to pay attention to, to help keep the extra unhealthy calories away.
When ordering fast food, Michigan State University Extension says to remember:
- Find the fruit; fruit has great health benefits and can keep you feeling full, longer than items such as fries.
- Side salads; another great option to get your vegetables in for the day (five a day); just remember to go light on the dressing.
- Breakfast can become dessert; a yogurt parfait loaded with fruit can take care of that sweet tooth, and provides nutrients that ice-cream doesn’t.
- Order the oat; many chains offer oatmeal as a breakfast option.
- Substitute a smoothie for a shake; cut more than half the calories and fat, and you get some fruit servings.
- Build those bones; many places offer one percent milk and fat-free chocolate milk as great options, instead of pop.
- Don’t smother the salad; use light/lite dressings sparingly.
- “Unwich” your sandwich; when at a sandwich shop (example: Jimmy John’s) you can order your sandwich to be made with lettuce instead of bread, this saves on many empty calories and extra unwanted sodium.
- Get it grilled instead of crispy; a grilled sandwich can cut fat intake by up to 50 percent, saving on empty calories and extra sodium over its crispy counterpart.
Check out some of these popular fast food and convenient restaurants by clicking on the name for easily accessible nutritional information! It’s up to you to know what you’re putting in your mouth.