6 Tips For Healthier Food Choices
6 Top Tips for Making Healthier Fast Food Choices
When hunger strikes while out and about, fast food can be so tempting. It is just so tasty, quick and convenient. Unfortunately, fast food is also seriously unhealthy- packed with fat, sugar and sodium, not to mention some items have enough calories in one meal for a whole day. If you eat in fast food joints everyday then following a healthy diet will be extremely difficult. The main reason why fast food is so bad is because fast food restaurants are all about keeping costs down, and maximizing profits. As a result of this they use the cheapest, most heavily processed ingredients as well as the fastest cooking methods, which is typically frying. So, even food that could have been healthy if cooked at home is unlikely to remain so after heading through the fast food chain. For example, chicken, when grilled and eaten fresh, is a great source of lean protein, however, that crispy chicken fillet in your burger is far less healthy as it has been so heavily processed and packed with non- meat ingredients. In addition, to boost flavour and freshness, fast food is also packed with trans fats, saturated fats, sugar, sodium and masses of calories. Never ideal. Despite all of this, a healthy lifestyle is all about moderation, so you do not have to go cold turkey and avoid fast food completely. Just don’t make it a regular habit! Also, when you do give in to cravings, and head to your favourite fast food joint, there are healthier choices. Here are 6 top tips to help you to stay on track when at a fast food restaurant:
1. Aim to keep your meal under 500 calories
On average a fast food meal contains more than 900 calories, almost half the recommended amount for a day! By controlling your portion size and keeping your meal under 500 calories you will help to preventing that fast food belly. Most people underestimate how many calories are in foods, so make sure to check out the chains website for accurate nutritional information. To help you out, avoid supersized meals, and always order the smallest option available. You could even consider ordering off the children’s menu for more reasonable portion sizes. Also watch what you drink – as sodas are full of hidden sugars and calories. Instead go for water, or unsweetened tea or coffee, which have next to no calories, and no sugar.
2. Choose low fat, high protein and high fiber foods
Opting for items with higher quality protein and fiber will keep you fuller for longer, and help keep your blood sugars stable. Try to avoid fried, breaded and processed items, and choose grilled meats like chicken breast and roast beef instead. Additionally, choose low fat options to help limit your intake of trans and saturated fats, both of which, when from fast foods, have a negative impact on health and can, if eaten excessively, lead to health problems.
3. Plan ahead
Fiber, fruit and veggies are inherently lacking in fast food meals, even if you order well. To up your levels of these important items why not plan ahead and bring your own healthy sides and add on’s? Great examples are carrot sticks, apple slices, and seeds. You can also minimize some of the fast food induced damage by making certain changes like having the dressing on the side, limiting your ketchup and skipping sugary dips and deserts.
4. Avoid trans fats
Artificial trans fats are added to fast foods to keep them fresh, but they are seriously bad for us, and no amount is considered safe- so avoid them like the plague. They will be shown on nutritional labels, and on chain menu’s- so keep an eye out.
5. Watch out for sodium
1500mg of sodium per day is the recommended amount for adults according to the American Heart Association. As fast food is packed with added sodium, keeping to this recommendation is tough- as one meal can easily exceed your daily limit.
6. Beware of added sugar
Sugar is toxic, and is a serious problem for those looking to eat healthily in fast food restaurants. Sugar is added to everything from sodas, and desserts to burgers and dressings. Keeping sugar intake under 9 teaspoons for men and 6 for women per day is recommended, but eating a fast food meal can easily exceed that in one feel sweep. Did you know that a 12 ounce regular soda contains more than 40g of added sugar, or 10 teaspoons! This sugar is completely unnecessary. We can get all we need from naturally occurring sugars in our food. The added sugar in fast food just adds extra empty calories that will add to our ever increasing waistlines, not to mention also increase our risk of diabetes, depression and heart disease.
With these tips in mind, there is no need to not eat healthily next time you head to a fast food joint.