It’s not a secret that Big Mac’s, Whooper’s and Taco Supreme’s are bad for your health, but what do you do when you’re in a hurry and the closest thing to you is a McDonald’s or a Wendy’s?
For some of us, going to fast food chains is an everyday habit. Below are some tips on how to break that habit — plus the right food to order if you have no other choice than to eat at a chain:
1. Stop at a grocery store instead
This is a great way to break the fast food habit. So many people only look at grocery stores as a place to buy food to bring home and make themselves, but almost every grocery store has a deli that makes sandwiches to-go.
Instead of getting fat infused fast food, order a sandwich at the meat and cheese deli at your local grocery store. It’ll only take about five minuets.
Order a turkey sandwich on a whole wheat roll and add all the veggies you’d like! Avoid condiments like mayo and ranch — opt for mustard or a tablespoon of olive oil instead. To add even more flavor, have them add pepper and oregano as well.
Instead of grabbing chips as your side, grab a banana or a yogurt. When checking out, ask the cashier for a plastic spoon.
Many grocery stores also have salad bars. When I go to Whole Foods it usually costs me about $8, which is the same price as the #1 at McDonald’s.
2. Stop at one of these healthier places instead
Typically, fast food chains have a habit of grouping together. There might be a Burger King on one corner and an Arby’s right across the street. Take advantage of that smart phone to see how close you are to one of these establishments instead:
There’s no reason to go into Subway and order something unhealthy (ex: Meatball Sub, Italian BMT, Philly Cheesecake, Tuna) when they have a ton of healthy options. Order a “Veggie Delight,” grilled chicken or turkey sandwich instead. Again, be conscious of your condiments, that’s where most of the bad calories come from.
Instead of chips, get an apple. If you’re craving the crunch, get the Baked Lays; they’re not healthy, but aren’t as bad as regular potato chips.
Pret a Manger
Everything at this establishment is extremely fresh and healthy. Find one in either New York City, Boston, Washington DC or Chicago.
It’s very easy to go overboard when they have delicious things like cookies, pastries and macaroni and cheese, but control your urge. My personal favorite healthy option is the vegan black bean soup and the greek salad. If you do order a salad, ask for the dressing on the side. Then just dip your fork in the dressing right before you’re about to have a bite.
3. If you have to eat fast food, here’s what to order
Remember, fast food isn’t food, it’s a food like product, but if you’re only option is one of the places below, order one of these items instead.
Avoid the crispy chicken sandwich (560 calories) and fries (530 calories) and go for one of these instead.
Option 1: A small cup of chili (210 calories) and a chive and sour cream baked potato (320 calories) or a side salad with no croutons (25 calories).
Option 2: A Jr. Cheeseburger (290 calories) with a side salad with no croutons (25 calories) instead of fries.
Option 3: A Grilled Chicken Go Wrap (270 calories) and a side salad with no croutons (25 calories).
*Head to their site to learn more about their menu and calorie content.
Avoid the Big Mac (550 calories) and fries (300 calories)!
Option 1: Hamburger or Cheeseburger (250-300 calories) and a fruit parfait (150 calories).
Option 2: Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken (290 calories) with the dressing on the side.
Option 3: Egg McMuffin (300 calories) and a fruit parfait (150).
Option 4: McChicken sandwich (380 calories) and a side salad (20 calories). Get the dressing on the side and use very little.
*Head on over to their website to learn more about their menu and calorie content.
Instead of getting a 30 oz Mountain Dew (410 calories) and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch meal (910 calories), choose one of these!
Option 1: One Crunchy Taco (170 calories) and a side of rice and beans (200 calories).
Option 2: Fresco Steak Burrito (350 calories).
Option 3: Three Fresco Crunchy Tacos (140 calories each)
*Go to their website to learn more about their menu and calorie content.
4. Make a better drink choice
Do you know how many calories are in a large Coke? About 310! There’s no nutritional value and there’s over 85 grams of sugar. Of course, getting water is the healthiest option, but if you’re craving the carbonation, order a seltzer instead. Most restaurants don’t charge for seltzer water either!
If you’re craving something sweet and carbonated, ask for half seltzer water and half juice.
5. Don’t let your snacks contain more calories than your meals
Starbucks, we’re talking to you. So you need a caffeine fix after work, no big deal, but a Grande Mocha Frappuccino has 400 calories and 9 grams of saturated fat. Order an iced Grande Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte with soy or skim milk instead (80 calories).
If that doesn’t seem appealing to you, check out their list of drinks under 200 calories on their website.
We hope this list helps the next time you’re hungry and in a hurry. Do you have any budget friendly health tips? Share them in the comments below!