Fast food on a diet? It sounds like a misnomer. But the truth is that you can make healthy choices at a drive-thru or quick counter service restaurant that won’t totally derail your healthy lifestyle. We know that life is hectic and sometimes grabbing something quick on the go is your best option. Other times you might even find yourself in an airport or another location where the only option is fast food, but don’t distress. Following some of these general rules of thumb will help guide you in making a healthy choice when ordering fast food on a diet.
While fried foods likely make up a large portion of the fast food menu, this is also the number one thing to avoid. Foods like chicken strips, chicken nuggets and fries are packed with fat and calories. Generally speaking, you also want to avoid cheese, soda, shakes and anything that is “supersized” or “extra-large.” Also, be careful about sauces. Mayonnaise can add unwanted fat. And many fast food joints also have their own “special sauces” that can be surprisingly high in fat and calories for even that one little serving.
Order the smallest portions.
If you can’t bear to hold the fries, opt for a small or kid-sized serving. Portion size can make a huge difference when dining at a fast food restaurant. Ordering off the kid’s menu will give you enough of your fast food fix to hopefully satisfy the craving but will save you tremendously when it comes to the number of calories (and fat) you’re consuming.
Choose the healthiest possible options.
In general, some of the healthier options at a fast food restaurant include a grilled chicken sandwich, a small hamburger (no cheese) or a salad with the dressing on the side. You definitely have to be careful with salad dressing choices. Read the labels and choose wisely—some of the salad dressings have as much fat and calories as a burger! When you can, opt for the yogurt, fresh fruit or side salad instead of the fries. When it comes to your drink, skip the calorie-packed soda and choose a bottled water or a low-fat milk instead.
Ask for some changes.
You can also ask for some basic changes to your meal to make it healthier. This is typically easier to do when you go inside as opposed to giving special instructions in the drive-thru. You can ask for meals without the cheese, without crispy onions or without any sauces in order to save yourself some unnecessary fat and calories.
Check out this handy guide to better understand what you should order and avoid while out to eat: