Tips On Eating Healthier Fast Food: Making Better Choices
Fast food, take-out, delivery and other convenient eating alternatives are booming today, with sales in the US alone reaching almost $200 billion annually. Here in America, workers in this industry account for almost a quarter of all wages paid in the United States.
But these cheaper eating choices also come with a much heftier price tag, in the form of unhealthy added fat, calories and significantly higher sodium levels. Eating healthy at these establishments can be challenging, but it can be done by using some basic tips and tricks.
When it comes to “fast food,” speed is part of the problem. In today’s hustling, bustling world of everyone being constantly on the go, many of us will wolf down our food too quickly. Gulping down our meals is a fast track to a number of different health problems, everything from bloating to indigestion and more.
Eating slower often will lead to consuming less overall, which can greatly reduce our daily caloric intake. Here are three more tips to ensure we’re eating more sensibly at fast food establishments:
- Don’t “super-size,” even though these additions are very wallet-friendly, they aren’t agreeable with ever expanding waistlines.
- Avoid trans-fat whenever possible and some chains will advertise this important fact.
- Steer clear of mayonnaise, other added sauces and cheese that can raise fat and calories on menu choices that are already high in all these areas.
When it comes to these fatty add-ons, some healthy conscious dieters are bringing their own ingredients along with them when they’re dining out. Some are toting some healthier additions like dried fruits, nuts and seeds to bulk up their dishes. With many of today’s fast food options, it can be difficult to get enough fiber, vitamins and other essential nutrients into our regular diet so we can add them ourselves instead.
Skip The Soda AND The Added Sugar
One of the biggest profit margins that many restaurants enjoy is through the serving of beverages, especially those sugar-packed sodas. When they’re offering “bottomless-beverages” or free refills, a few ounces of soda syrup are diluted with an exponential amount of water and ice, giving them a handsome profit.
From a sweetening standpoint alone, a smaller, twelve-ounce serving of soda can pack up to 40 grams of added sugar. The more commonly sold 64-ounce “super-sized” version, packs a walloping 200 grams, which is more than five days’ worth of our required level of this fattening substance. Get a glass of water instead, your wallet and body will both thank you.
The FDA Steps In
Back in June of 2015, the FDA reported that Americans consume around one-third of their caloric intake when they’re away from home and took an important step to help diners in the United States make better eating choices. They established labeling and nutritional guidelines to be instituted for restaurants, fast food franchises, even vending machines supplying faster food options, to openly post calorie information for the items they’re selling.
Other important nutritional information, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein, must all be available in writing upon request. As consumers, we can now clearly see that just because we’re ordering a salad, that doesn’t necessarily mean this seemingly healthy choice doesn’t come with triple, or even quadruple, digits of caloric content.
Chain, Chain, Chain
These newer regulations were mostly aimed at fast food chains, but they’re still required by any establishment that has more than twenty locations. Thankfully, most entities have not only embraced these new rules, they’re also going a bit above and beyond the requirements.
Without naming names, you may see some advertising campaigns and menu options available from food providers that specifically point to healthier eating choices. From a marketing standpoint, this reaches out to diners and lets them know they’re concerned about their customer’s health.
Whether we’re making better choices ourselves or the dining establishment we’re frequenting is making some of these decisions for us, there’re still ways we can ensure we’re getting healthier alternatives. Take an extra moment to consider your culinary choices when you’re eating out.