We all have to admit it: fast food is just too convenient and just too inexpensive to ever completely deny yourself, even for the best health reasons. Yet, you of course still want to at least try to be healthy. Depending on the situation you sometimes don’t have much choice other than this fast food place or the other. You don’t have to worry about compromising your waistline or health with junky fast food, nor your enjoyment of the price, wide availability, and practicality of fast food. With just a little bit of planning and know-how gained from our tips, you’ll be able to easily navigate the menus to your advantage while still keeping health in mind.
10. Don’t deny yourself
We’ll start out by altering your basic mindset in the area of fast food. Fast food places are so, so common now all over the country. There is such a huge variety of different foods available these days, and the attention and care to quality and superior ingredients is only growing better as the years go by. Fast food shouldn’t be something that you should feel you have to ever deny yourself completely, or feel like anything at any restaurant is worth compromising your health over. Attaching this negative stigma to the eateries only creates an association with shame and failure if you end up eating at one in the end. In fact, if you deny yourself any certain food, (no matter from a fast food restaurant or not,) you will only crave it even more and maybe even not be able to stop thinking about it. In the end: don’t deny yourself from something you want. Just change your mindset to be educated in your choices and make smarter decisions–not eliminating them entirely. After you change your mindset to looking for healthy and better options at fast food establishments, rather than cutting them out of your mind forever, the following tips will help you eat your way to your best life.
9. Don’t order electronically
Another tip that will help you still keep on the healthier side when eating at fast food restaurants is, as tempting as it is, to not order electronically, for example with an app or online. More and more restaurants these days are adopting an even more convenient and faster route of ordering online or through an app, or even at an electronic kiosk, found in many McDonald’s now, for example. If you place your order for the meal digitally, you’re more likely to feel more comfortable to over-order or add unnecessary extras to your order, because it’s just too easy to press a couple of buttons. Psychology also explains that you’re more likely to be more sensible and reserve yourself when in the presence of other people or ordering in person with a cashier or waiter. In electronic ordering, with no one to, for lack of a better word, “judge” you for your food choices, you’ll be more likely to order more unhealthy food or just more in general. Unless you have the iron will and self-control of a saint when ordering electronically, we recommend ordering in person or at least with a group of friends to help reinforce those healthier choices, even perhaps subconsciously. (If you do have an iron will with digital ordering, it could be an easier way to customize your meal to your new health standards. It all depends on the kind of orderer you are.)
8. Take control
If you are choosing to read this article, you’ve already subconsciously or otherwise made the smart decision to educate yourself and to improve your lifestyle and health while still enjoying the exceptional convenience of fast food. It’s time to (literally) take full control your selections from the menu, and lightly customize your meal to your health advantage. When you can be the one to add however much (or leave off entirely) various seasonings, salt, dressing, toppings, and more, you’ll be able to truly facilitate your health without succumbing to the more unhealthy option offered. Politely request for meals and sides without certain toppings, for example unsalted sides so you can season them lighter yourself. Or, request salad dressings and the like on the side so your food will not be over-flooded with just too much topping that you really don’t need. You can also request something with less cheese, less sauce, less bacon, less bread, less sour cream, etc. Or, go the other direction, and ask for extra veggies and healthy toppings or ingredients. Yet another benefit of a slightly customized meal? It will ensure that your meal will be made fresh to your specifications! Don’t be timid in speaking up (kindly, mind you,) to order something your way. Most if not all employees would be happy to make an easy, little alteration to your meal so you feel more comfortable to enjoy it to the fullest while simultaneously caring for your well-being.
7. Change breads
An extremely easy and simple way to alter your fast food tendencies to a healthier route is to change your choice in bread. Carby (but unfortunately delicious) bread is a common culprit to be associated with a less healthy lifestyle. It needn’t be eliminated entirely as an option, however. Just switch to more health-conscious bread choices, like flatbread, pitas, tortillas, whole wheat, whole grain, or multigrain. Fast food places such as Subway, Amato’s, Deangelo’s, Panera Bread, Tim Hortons, and many more already have a myriad of different bread choices available that can be substituted in your sandwich or meal of choice. This automatically increases the healthier aspect of one of the main concerns of unhealthy foods: all that extra bread. (The restaurants listed aren’t limited to just mainly sub or sandwich places as well, with advances like McDonald’s McCafe, there are more choices across many places.) This small change to whole wheats or less carby, nice and thin pitas and tortillas will certainly make a different in the long run in making healthier food and lifestyle choices over all. And it will add the benefit of getting to enjoy the fillings even more. (If you want to eliminate bread entirely, go for “alternative” options, like lettuce wraps!)
6. Change sides/drinks
Yet another case of adopting forethought and wise decision-making in your ordering choices. Most fast food restaurants have greatly expanded the range, options, and healthier choices of sides than only the same old, greasy, deep-fried french fries. Healthier sides include such examples as apples or mixed fruit, yogurt and yogurt parfaits, baked potato, (better than deep-fried potato,) side salads, chips, red beans and rice, and many more! You shouldn’t feel limited to a greasy, unhealthy side. Search and/or inquire about the different options that are available with meals. In addition, you shouldn’t feel that you need to get a syrupy, sugary soda just because it comes with a meal or is in some way easier oris more opportune. (There’s nothing beneficial about getting any “diet” soda, either. It’s just as damaging and not beneficial for your bod!) Make sure you ditch the addictive, zero-nutrient soda habit and request for a different drink with your meal, such as 100% juice, low fat milk, natural lemonade, unsweetened iced tea, and more. (Even hot tea and coffee is better than any kind of soda!) Just about the healthiest option would of course just be a bottle of water, or, a large cup of icy tap water, which is usually free or crazy cheap. In the end, you’ll save money and your health by making these smart, simple swaps.
5. Grill it
No worries, you don’t have to even think about eliminating what is most of our favorite part of fast food: chicken! An effortless and very underrated swap and/or substitute is to just opt for the “grilled” or unbreaded version of chicken, instead of the “crispy” or breaded version. It may not seem like much of a difference at all or too easy or obvious of a tip, but when you think about it, it can really add up. Eliminating the deep-fried, greasy, carby, layer of breading and going for the grilled choice will help in the long run to keep more grease, carbs, and fat out of your system for good and to instead fill your tum with nice, pure, “naked” white meat. (White meat, of course, always being a slightly better choice over red meats, like steak and beef. Although, they do all offer a good source of protein in the end!) Just about all chicken choices on menus of fast food restaurants countrywide offer a breaded and unbreaded option in the meal. Think about it–grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, flatbread–sounds like an extremely healthy and fulfilling, wholesome choice for a meal that your body will surely appreciate!
4. Salads are, like, really good now
Fast food salads were once thought to be (and many were) a poor excuse for a salad; a wilted, thrown-together afterthought to the arguably more popular burgers of the day. They tried in the past, they really did, but luckily, these days, fast food salads are actually good. Forget just “good”– they’ve advanced to being hella delicious. Whether the fully packed chicken club salad from Burger King, a mixed and rich taco salad from Taco Bell, and the several tasty options of salads McDonald’s now offers, you’ll be set and sure of a very filling, truly yummy and healthy salad practically anywhere you choose to go. (Of course, there are always amazing salads offered from more chains like Subway, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr, Chick-fil-A…the list is growing more and more every year as more people show a preference for fresher and healthier food choices in their life.) Try them all out and see which hearty and healthy choice you like the best. And, of course, if there is the option for grilled over breaded chicken, take it for even a more smart and healthy choice!
3. Go for chili
Now let’s get down to the literal meat of the topic–meat in chili, that is! The option of chili, while unorthodox when thinking of examples of fast food, is actually available at many different fast food restaurants, and not just ones known for soups, like Tim Hortons or Panera Bread. It’s also always available at Wendy’s and even McDonald’s, two common, wide-spread restaurant chains; not limited to regions like some other chains are. When you look at the components of a typical chili mix itself, it sure doesn’t add up to even a remotely unhealthy option. Beef, beans, cheese, vegetables, tomatoes–this is all combined to form a hearty and wholesome meal of protein, veggies, and beneficial spices and seasoning. In addition, a nice, dense, hot and thick cup of chili is very filling, making it stave your hunger longer and not requiring you to eat more food or even have the option to get an unhealthy choice. So next time you’re craving something hot, filling, and frankly moderately healthy, don’t pass over the option of tasty chili!
2. In-n-Out Protein Style Burger
This is a way to eliminate the problem of carbs, bread, or getting the best bread substitute at all. Just opt for the famous Protein Style Burger from the highly popular chain, In-n-Out. With all the regular benefits of a cheeseburger–veggie toppings, protein from beef, calcium from cheese, etc.–the bun is taken completely out of the equation and is instead replaced with a thick layer of fresh, large lettuce leaves. Adding that extra element of crunch and freshness highlights the flavors of the delicious meat and hearty fillings, and actually sounds almost more appealing than squishy, soft, dry old bready buns. This is additionally an excellent option available who have certain dietary restrictions, such as not being able to have gluten typically found in most bread. Give this fresh and tasty version of an already tasty In-n-Out burger a taste next time you go. Over time, eliminating bread and adding literally layers of even more vegetables on top (and below) will help your health, waistline, and eventually, lifestyle!
1. McDonald’s cheeseburger
No way a regular old McDonald’s cheeseburger can be a healthy option for you, can it? Well, in comparison, it certainly seems to be. When browsing through all the options of fast food out there, it’s frankly alarming how much of it is fried. We feel as though many menus must be 80% or even 90% fried, carby, or both, in one way, shape, or form or another. When possible, try to steer clear of all the oily, deep-fat-fried foods and just go with a classic, all beef, McDonald’s cheeseburger. There’s nothing deep-fried about it, it’s a source of rare, non-battered protein, and it additionally has a good source of nutrient-rich vegetables for toppings (tomato, lettuce, onion, even pickle, etc.) and even a good source of dairy in the cheese. The classic burger is also not a ridiculous, over-inflated size, like some hamburgers from some fast food restaurants can be, layering patties, crazy toppings, and more bread. Just go for this fine standard with confidence, adopting and adding the other tips mentioned above to your meal and to your way of thought for all future visits to fast food places.