Fast food can be easy, quick, and affordable. And there’s going to be times, like running around after school and work, but before your kid’s big game, that you just don’t have time to go home and cook. But, you should be careful to eat smart when you’re running through the drive thru.
From 2007 to 2010, American adults got 11.3% of their total daily calories from fast food. And when many fast food meals pack a high-calorie punch, it’s important to make the smartest choices possible.
Tips for the Drive Thru
Don’t add salt.
Fast food places are already adding plenty of salt to their food, so don’t add extra from the shaker to your fries.
Pick smart toppings.
Ketchup can have quite a bit of sugar, but sauces like honey mustard and BBQ have even more, and mayo is high in fat. Mustard is the perfect low-fat condiment. And pick veggies like onion, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce instead of cheese or bacon.
Pay attention to names and menu descriptions.
Things that are labeled deep-fried, panfried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, Alfredo, or in cream sauce are going to be high in calories, fat, and salt.
Don’t assume it’s healthy because it sounds like a health food.
Some fast food salads, like those with crispy chicken, lots of cheese, and heavy dressings, like ranch, can have more than a 1,000 calories! Some burgers have as few as 250 calories. Pay attention to what’s on each item.
Skip the soda.
Drink water, tea, or even coffee instead. Even diet soda is not helping your health.
Look at ALL of the menu.
Some places serve breakfast all day that can have healthier options. Kids’ menus can give you smaller, lower calorie portions. And you can always ask to remove or substitute certain ingredients.
More and more menus are listing calories, but it can be hard to read that in the drive thru while you’re also trying to choose and order. But technology makes it easy to check calorie-counts and nutrition info online. Some places, like Starbucks, even have nutrition info on their app. Take a minute before you go or while you’re waiting in a long line to check what your healthiest options are.
Stop your cravings.
If you’re hitting up the drive thru because of a craving, not because you’re short on time, learn how to make healthier, cheaper, and delicious versions of your favorite takeout at home. Our Pinterest can help you learn how.
Fitness Magazine also has some great recommendations for what you should order at some of your favorite fast food stops.