Health Journal: Fast Food the Healthy Way

Lindsay Adams

Students tend to turn to fast food for quick hunger fixes. While it is healthiest to cook and eat at home, this takes time. In the case of fast  food, meals tend to be higher in fat and calories.  However, it is possible to dine out and still choose a healthy option.

The trick to eating right while going out is to be familiar with the menu’s nutritional information. Always check the nutrition guides most fast food restaurants provide online or next to items on the menu. Even if the food is low in calories, sometimes it will be high in sodium. The American Heart Association recommends adults consume less than two grams of trans fat per day, but a Double Whopper with cheese,  an order of fries and drink from Burger King contains more than four grams.

Often if ordering a sandwich, upsizing the order and adding fries or a drink costs little extra, but resist the urge. Fries add 300-700 calories to a meal, depending on portion size. Liquids also add many calories for very little nutritional benefit. It is best to order water, which will save money and is substantially healthier than most fast food drink options.

McDonald’s Southwest salad is a healthier choice than fatty burgers and salty chicken sandwiches. The salad comes with mixed greens, black beans, corn, cheese and tortilla strips. To keep it extra-light, hold the chicken and get one of McDonald’s low-fat dressings instead of the Southwest dressing. Without chicken, the salad is only 140 calories with six grams of protein. Even with grilled chicken, this salad is under 300 calories.

From KFC, order the grilled chicken breast with whipped potatoes and corn on the cob. Enjoy some comfort food without packing on the pounds by using KFC’s meal deal, which comes with a piece of chicken and two sides. The grilled chicken breast and the sides offer plenty of protein at 41 grams with only 430 calories.

At Chipotle, order the salad with barbacoa, black beans and tomato salsa.  Chipotle keeps genetically modified ingredients off the menu, which is a huge step up when it comes to nutrition. The salad only has 320 calories with a whopping 33 grams of protein.

At Burger King, order the hamburger and value-size unsalted French fries. If craving a burger and fries, get the basic hamburger without mayo and with extra lettuce and tomato to get a better serving of vegetables. The meal is only 480 calories and 14 grams of protein. Get the French fries unsalted and save 100mg of sodium.

From Panera, order the half-smoked turkey breast on artisan whole grain loaf plus low-fat garden vegetable with pesto soup. The You Pick Two menu is both inexpensive and healthy, if ordering right. The turkey sandwich and vegetable soup is only 320 calories with 19 grams of protein.