Find the Healthy Option at Fast Food Restaurants

By Kary Woodruff

Americans are notorious for eating at fast food restaurants. The 15 firefighters competing in the My Heart Challenge are no exception. They never really know what their shift entails, or when they can grab their next meal - so they often find themselves grabbing food from a fast food place like McDonalds. I've put together a little visual to help you see that even places like McDonalds have healthy options. 

healthy_breakfast_options

Take a look at the three breakfast meals in the photo above. Which one would you be more likely to order? Now guess which one is most healthy. Here's a rundown of the three meals shown:

A - Fruit & yogurt parfait + Egg White Delight = 400 kcal, 14% of your daily fat recommended for the day

B - Sausage Burrito + hash brown, lowfat milk = 550 kcal, 43% of your daily fat recommended for the day

C - Big Breakfast with Hotcakes, Large Biscuit = 1150 kcal, 93% of your daily fat recommended for the day

Ninety-three percent of your daily fat recommendation in a single breakfast! Wow!! This is just a small example of finding the more healthy options when eating out. But here are a few other tips you might find helpful:

  • Always look ahead at the menu – look at calories, total fat/saturated fat, and sodium especially
  • Aim for plate method when you order – ½ of what you order should be fruits & vegetables, ¼ should be whole grain (when possible), ¼ should be lean protein options (chicken, fish, turkey, beans, etc.)
  • Look for key words indicating healthier cooking methods = grilled, broiled, steamed, roasted
  • Avoid words indicating higher fat cooking methods = fried, battered, buttered, smothered
  • Get sauces/dips/dressings on the side.  For salad dressing see if they have lower calorie options
  • Don’t be overly hungry when you order! We are much less likely to make healthier choices.  Get a little protein snack before you go to take the edge off, like a lowfat string cheese
  • Wrap up half of your entrée before you start – out of sight, out of mind