Cutting Down Calories, Fat, and Salt
The big advantage of fast food is that it’s…well, fast. But that quick meal may not be as low in calories, fat, or salt as you’d like. It never hurts to slow down and consider what you’re ordering.
Cutting calories: count everything
Here’s something you may not know: An average fast-food meal can contain as many as 1,000 or more calories. That can put a big dent in your allotted calorie count for the day. So what are a few things you might want to watch for?
Think about having your sandwich on bread, a bun, or an English muffin rather than a croissant or biscuit. It will save you a lot of calories.
Salads can be healthy, but some dressings may be high in calories. Even too much low-cal dressing adds up. So check the calories on the packets.
Cheese, chili, or sauces on a sandwich only pile calories on top of calories. Do you really need them, or should you pass?
Fat’s not where it’s at
Saturated fats can create some real problems. They raise the cholesterol in your blood, which can build plaque that clogs your blood vessels. Finding fast food that’s low in saturated fat is a challenge, but not impossible. For example:
Fast-food muffins often have lots of fat. A lower-fat option might be cereal with fresh, low-fat milk instead.
Don’t be fooled by skinless fried chicken. It can have almost as much fat as regular fried chicken. You might want to look for roasted, grilled, baked, or broiled chicken instead.
Before you order the bacon with your pancakes or on your sandwich, remember: it’s not just high in fat, it’s low in nutrition.
Easy on the salt
Sure, your body needs sodium. But not as much as you might think. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends getting no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. That’s only about 1 teaspoon of salt. People with high blood pressure should aim for even less. How can you cut back on salt in your fast food?
Meat and extra cheese on your pizza can add sodium (not to mention calories and fat) to your diet. Think about veggie toppings instead.
If you’re cutting down on sodium, leave those extra salt packets and other high-sodium condiments at the table.
Many Chinese fast-food items can be heavy on the salt too—particularly the sauces. Do not automatically assume everything there is healthy.
When you’re eating on the run, try to take a minute or two and find the low-cal, low-fat, or low-salt choices on that fast-food menu.