In an ideal world, we would gravitate towards unprocessed, healthy foods in the same way that Kanye West adores Kim Kardashian…fully and completely, no matter what haters or Saturday Night Live parodies say. But even when eating clean comes to you as easily as breathing, sometimes you don’t have access to healthy choices. Like that time you were stuck in an airport, without an emergency protein bar stashed away at the bottom of your purse, or when you bolted late out of work to catch a concert with your sweetie and dinner was going to be limited to whatever the concessions booth served. Here are a couple of tips to make the best out of a fast food situation:
- Look for the best of the bunch. the Centers for Disease Control estimates that fast food accounts for more than 15% of daily calories for people in their twenties and thirties. That’s why FITNESS Magazine put together this list of two relatively healthier options on the menus of each of the top 10 fast food chains in case you need to indulge in an occasional grab-and-go meal. For example, they highlight the Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette plus Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait; for a total of 375 calories, 9.5g fat (4g saturated) at McDonald’s.
- Forego the extras. Chipotle is my favorite fast food restaurant, primarily because they buy anti-biotic free chicken and beef, prepare items fresh and try to use organic and/or local items when possible. But even there, the calories and sodium content add up. So I forego a lot of the “extras” to keep things healthier – opting for a burrito bowl without the flour tortilla, asking for only one scoop of brown rice with my chicken, veggies and black beans, and saying no to the cheese and sour cream in favor of a scoop of guacamole. Whenever I have an early morning flight back home, breakfast is usually oatmeal from Starbucks, without adding any sugar. Think about how you can choose filling proteins, veggies, fruits or salads from fast food menu options without falling into the deep-fried foods trap.
- Think small. In our supersize culture, portion sizes have gotten out of whack and a typical fast food meal way exceeds an average person’s recommended daily calorie allowance. Consider options from the kid’s meal or whatever the smallest portion sizes may be. Don’t hesitate to ask for water instead of the soda that comes with your meal or ask anything that can be custom plated to come in half the normal portion size.
How do you handle fast food situations when nothing else is available? What are some of your go-to-foods at quick service restaurants?