It’s easy to eat healthy when you’re buying groceries yourself and cooking your own meals. But, eating at home all the time is not always possible. And, when you have busy days at work, the last thing on your mind is cooking. So, when you head out to the nearest fast food joint for lunch, you have to work with the choices on the menu.
The good news is, that eating a fast food meal does not need to be unhealthy! And, if you choose right, those meals are not going straight to your waistline or butt. Look closely at the menus at all the popular fast food restaurants and they not only list the ingredients but also the number of calories for each. Just keep in mind that many processed and packaged foods, although, low on calories might not exactly be healthy.
Here is a list of well-known fast food companies and the nutritious offerings they have. There’s a huge list that you can choose from. At the same time, you’ll find that many of the choices you always thought were healthy, actually have ingredients and add-ons that spell a diet (and health) disaster. Use this list as a guide and stay informed.
- Tendergrill Chicken Garden Salad: The grilled chicken offers you the right amount of protein and it’s a good filling meal just as long as you avoid the mayo.
- Chicken Apple & Cranberry Garden Fresh Salad: This salad has Tendergrill dressing to go with it that you can avoid to cut back on the calories. Opt for Ken’s Lite Honey Balsamic dressing and sprinkle only half of the serving you get.
- Chicken Salad Wraps: Somewhat high on the sodium content, they make a good snack to keep you going for a while.
- Satisfries: Go for them if you’re dying for a taste of fries. But, watch the portion sizes because they’re also fried.
When you’re looking at the menu for their healthier offerings, the first thing you can do is to opt for the chicken instead of the other meats. Try these options:
- Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich
- Charbroiled Chicken Salad: Go for the the low-fat balsamic dressing.
- Original Grilled Chicken Salad/ Garden Side Salad: Avoid the croutons and ask for the shredded cheese on the side
If you’re under the impression that avoiding beef and going for chicken is a healthier option, think again. Chicken can become unhealthy if it’s breaded and fried because that’s when all the carbs, fat and sodium are added. Opt for these ideas:
- Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich:
- Chargrilled and Fruit Salad: Use the low-fat berry balsamic vinaigrette.
Make the right choices and you can have a very healthy meal at this restaurant. Try these ideas.
- A burrito bowl of brown rice topped with black beans and a variety of salsas, guacamole and lettuce makes for a filling and very healthy meal. Add some sofritas if you want to.
- Choose salads
- Watch the meats you add, avoid the double helpings and substitute vegetables wherever possible
Jack in the Box
This fast food chain actually surprises you with a range of whole grains on its menu.
- Asian Chicken Salad with Grilled Chicken Strips
- Chicken Fajita Pita: The pita is whole grain and if you can avoid the salsa, you can make it a nutritious meal.
- Salads: Choose the Marzetti Light Italian Dressing over the Creamy Parmesan Caesar dressing, avoid the croutons and you have a healthy dish.
- Kentucky Grilled Chicken: Lay off the extra crispy and fried chicken strips.
- Original Recipe Chicken Breast: You can eat this safely; just remove the skin and the breading.
- Tender Roast Sandwich: You only need to avoid the sauce
- Honey BBQ Sandwich
- Side orders: Coleslaw and mashed potatoes/Corn on the cob and green beans
- Premium Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken: Not only is the chicken grilled in this dish, making it easy on the calories, but it also has almonds, veggies and soybeans. It’s great for the heart.
- Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich/ Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich: Once more, it has grilled chicken. All you need to do is request mayo on the side. Dip a little if you absolutely must or avoid completely.
- Fruit and Yogurt Parfait: It’s perfect if you’re looking for something to satisfy that sweet craving. The low-fat yogurt, and low-fat granola packed with strawberries and blueberries are healthy too. Just watch the portion sizes because it does have some added sugar.
- Apple Slices: A good substitute for the fries and other sides.
- Egg White Delight McMuffin: This is a great breakfast choice and filling too. To make it low fat, request them to hold the margarine and cheese.
- Fruit & Maple Oatmeal: The only downside to this breakfast option is the sugar content. Request them to avoid the brown sugar and let the fruit make it sweet for you.
- Side Salad: Salads are always good. The problem lies with the dressings you choose. So hold off the mayo and go for the balsamic vinaigrette instead.
Subway meals are known to be healthy, but if you’re a little careful, you could make your meals even healthier. Just choose these options.
- Go vegetarian and eliminate the meat completely
- Opt for the Italian or whole grain breads
- Add a selection from their great soups for a more filling meal
- Try not to go for the footlong and stay with the 6” sandwich
- Avoid the cheese
- Avoid the high calorie sauces like mayo and sweet onion teriyaki
- Avoid the chips and choose a salad to go with it instead
- Fresco Style Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco: This version comes with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lettuce. You could ask for the cheese and sour cream on the side so you can watch how much you eat.
- Cantina Power Bowl: Makes for a filling meal and if you could go with the vegetarian option, you could avoid some more of the fat content.
- Burritos and Crunchy Tacos off the Fresco Menu
- Mandarin Chicken Salad: An Oriental dish, it comes with lettuce, roasted almonds, and crispy noodles. A great meal.
- Ultimate Chicken Grill: Choose toppings like tomatoes, lettuce and honey mustard sauce and that makes for a healthy meal.
- Chicken Go Wraps: Small portion size, but a good snack.
- Garden Side Salad/ Caesar Side Salad: Like with salads, avoid the croutons and dressing, or you could just use the dressing as a dip.
There you go. Simply place your order for the right items with the more nutritious add-ons and sides and you can have a meal from a fast food restaurant that is healthy. While you can always study the nutrition charts carefully, if you don’t have the time, go for the items off this list.
Try them and tell us what you think!