9 ways to make better choices when eating fast food

July 28, 2015

Here's how to take advantage of the fast food chains' ever-expanding menus, and exactly what to order so you don't see your waistline expand.

9 ways to make better choices when eating fast food

1. Go for the salad, minus the fried toppings

  • Although most fast-food restaurants offer decent-sized salads these days, if you top them with fried chicken, cheese and all of the dressing, you will end up with as much artery-clogging saturated fat and calories as if you'd had the double-cheeseburger and fries.
  • Instead, choose grilled or roasted chicken as your protein source, skip the croutons and ask for the low-fat dressing – then use only half.

2. Skip the cheese

Craving a burger? That's okay – just get a plain burger without the cheese. That could save you around 50 calories, 40 of them from fat, and two and a half grams of saturated fat.

3. Ask for extra onions, lettuce and tomato

Whatever sandwich you choose, it'll now be healthier, crunchier and more filling. And it ticks off one more serving of vegetables from your day's quota.

4. Order water

  • Or if you must have a soft drink, choose the diet version.
  • A large coke contains 320 calories. Making this one change might save you the same number of calories as the meal you're about to eat.

5. Always say no to “special” sauce

  • Many are just dressed-up mayonnaise, and thus overflowing with fat and calories.
  • The best topping for your chicken, fish or burger?
  • Mustard (few calories, lots of flavour).
  • The second best? Ketchup (no fat, but a fair amount of sweetener).
  • Other good choices: olive oil and vinegar (in moderation), spicy sauces, red pepper sauce.

6. Do not supersize

  • Ever. The regular meals are large enough, and high enough in calories and fat that you should never add more.
  • If possible, fill up on some veggies before hitting the restaurant.
  • You will likely find that your desire for the massive burger is not quite what it was.

7. In fact, order a child's meal

A small burger, a small fries and milk is a surprisingly filling meal for most adults, and has many fewer calories than the adult version. Plus, you get a free toy!

8. Look for ways to sneak in fibre

That means a baked potato (with skin on) and chili (no cheese), bean burritos and tacos instead of meat (a bean burrito has 12 grams of fibre – roughly half your daily needs met) and baked beans and corn on the cob (without butter) as side or main dishes.

9. Make a supermarket your fast-food restaurant

Run in, grab a piece or two of fruit, some yogurt, an energy bar, a salad at the salad bar, a turkey sandwich at the deli counter, and you'll be out via the express check-out with breakfast, lunch and snacks in 10 minutes.

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