With today’s hectic schedules, individuals often eat at fast food joints due to convenience. Although fast food joints are packed with tempting colorful signs, those watching their weight can still order healthier alternatives. Dr. Jessica Bartfield, who specializes in nutrition and weight management at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System, explained:

“The average American consumes close to 50% of his or her meals outside of the home and fast-food restaurants are abundant. By following a few rules, you can keep any fast food meal in calorie check.”

Dr. Bartfield likes sandwich shops that allow customers to fill their sandwich with a variety of vegetable toppings, which adds nutritional value, while having the option to stay clear of higher-calorie ingredients like dressings and cheese. He explained:

“I am also a fan of fast-food places that offer soup or even chili as soup can be a terrific option, particularly ones loaded with veggies, lean meats and beans. Be careful to avoid the cream- or cheese-based soups and beware of the bread bowl, which can increase the calories by up to 1,000.”

Dr. Bartfield’s Fast-Food Tips:

  • “Select grilled rather than fried. A fast-food grilled chicken sandwich has 470 calories and 18 grams of fat while the fried version has 750 calories and 45 grams of fat.
  • Hold off on cheese, mayonnaise and salad dressings unless low-fat options are available. Cheese can add an additional 100 calories or more per serving, as does mayonnaise and, often, you won’t miss the taste when ordering the plainer versions.
  • Order the smallest size available. Go for the single burger rather than the double and for the small fry rather than bonus-size.
  • Skip sugar-sweetened drinks, which are usually absent in nutritional value and don’t make you feel more satisfied. These calories quickly add up leading to excessive calorie consumption, especially at restaurants offering free refills on drinks.
  • Save half of your order for your next meal. You save calories, save time and also save money.”

Written by Grace Rattue