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Fast Food: To Eat or not to Eat?

I had a great day with my youngest son, Thomas. We spent the morning at the Portland Zoo with many of his older cousins. He loved looking at the lions, crocodiles, and bat exhibits. The picture attached is one of Thomas enjoying the Zoo train. Due to all of the excitement with his cousins there, we were there longer than we normally do (about 2 hours longer). Usually, we go straight home and have lunch prior to Thomas’s nap, but this day due to our extended visit, I needed to get something quick on the way home so Thomas would take a good nap. Thomas enjoyed his fast food lunch, for sure!

As a Registered Dietitian, I often get the question, “Is fast food good for me?” My answer is very vague and is usually, “Well, it depends.” Like my other blog posts have mentioned, I never label food “good” or “bad,” but I rather encourage moderation. I do not recommend fast food every day, but once per week is certainly appropriate. If you do go out to fast food, use these tips to help you make the healthier option.

  • Order the kids meals – Portions in a kids meals are often recommended portions for adults. By ordering the kids meal, you will receive all menu components and not feel prived of any food any (mostly the fries). These days, most kids meals come with pre-cut fruit or applesauce which is a great way to get in a fruit serving. Also, instead of coffee or soda, order 1% or fat free milk.
  • Try an entrée salad – Burgers and fries are often the most popular ordered item on the menu, but branch out and order an entrée salad. These salads are often lower in calories, saturated fat, and overall cholesterol. For a lower fat option, opt for grilled meats and use any salad dressing sparingly.
  • Avoid special sauces – Most fast food restaurants will automatically add special sauces, gravies, mayonnaise, and BBQ sauces to burgers and entrees. These sauces can add a lot of overall calories, fat (saturated & trans fat), sodium, and sugar. To reduce this, try ordering sauces on the side. Enjoy the sauce, but add ¼ to ½ of what is normally added.

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