Can fast food really be healthy food?

We all live busy lives and finding the time to eat right can often be a challenge.

Can visiting a fast food restaurant be a healthy option when looking for a nutritious and tasty meal?

You might juggle taking the kids to school, working an eight-hour day, taking the kids to after-school activities, and visiting the gym, and that often means having to find food to eat on the run.

Unless you’ve taken the time to make a packed lunch (plus the kids!), it’s very likely that you’ll find yourself at one time or another visiting a fast food restaurant.

Most people know that fast food does not mean healthy food and that the typical fare offered by these establishments is real diet and health food. Giant burgers with cheese, bacon, and spices, fried chicken, steak, cheese-filled pizza, burritos, and tacos all washed down with large or extra-large sodas and milkshakes.

Some meals can contain so much fat and sugar that one serving may exceed the recommended daily intake for the entire day!

Now, if you eat healthy and visit fast food restaurants infrequently, an exotic burger or a piece of pizza won’t hurt you. However, if like 40% of Americans, you consider your local fast food outlet your second kitchen, it’s time to watch what you eat and check up on your health.

If you find yourself at a fast food restaurant, careful choices and common sense can mean that you can find a meal that is both healthy and delicious. The best rule is to try to avoid any food in which the calories from fat make up more than 30% of the entire product. To calculate this ratio, multiply fat grams by nine (total fat calories) and divide the result by total calories.

Now, so that you don’t have to bring a calculator with you every time you eat, you can quickly get used to learning about the types of foods and preparation methods to avoid. If the food has been baked, fried, or grilled many times, it is likely to be high in fat. Know that it is not only burgers, but also chicken and fish.

Many modern fast food restaurants also have salad bars, so choose a fresh green salad to accompany your main meal. But again, beware of adding fattening additives like cheese, dressings, and mayonnaise. Low-calorie dressings, if available, are the best alternative.

Restaurants now provide nutritional information for their meals and foods, so the diner or dietitian can know what is in their food, as well as the calories and fats it contains. If nutritional information is not clearly visible or available, don’t be afraid to ask a staff member as they should be able to provide it for you.

Eating on the run is something we can’t avoid at some point in our lives, but luckily we can make healthy choices instead of keeping fast food restaurants off limits.

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