5 Healthier Fast Food Suggestions

This tip is courtesy of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging: Your Online Guide To The Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Get more nutrition and health advice – and save 30% – when you start your 14-day free trial!

Even if you are diligent about packing healthful foods when traveling, or finding restaurants with nutritious choices when eating out, there may be times when your healthy dining options are limited. While I suggest you avoid eating fast food entirely, if you must, please keep the following in mind when ordering:

  1. No matter how hungry you are, you are better off ordering a small amount of food and making up for it with healthier foods later.
  2. Pile on the lettuce, tomato and other vegetables that come with your order, to add some fiber and antioxidants. If choosing a sandwich, opt for going bun-free, I know of no fast food restaurant that has truly whole grains anywhere in the kitchen.
  3. Go for the salad – this option is now commonly available at fast-food establishments. The dressings are often soybean oil based, ask for a side of salsa to use as dressing.
  4. Ask to see a list of the nutritional content of menu items. Some restaurants have them posted – if they don’t, ask for them, and then ask yourself if you really want to eat there.
  5. Don’t forget that the grocery store makes a perfect fast food option. Run in and pick up some cheese, nuts or plain yogurt.

If you are in the unenviable position of having no choice but to eat fast food, try these easy suggestions to help make your meal as healthful as possible:

  • Avoid anything deep-fried. From chicken to potatoes to onions, deep-fried foods contain altered fats that are pro-inflammatory and detrimental to the body.
  • Skip the soda since it has no nutritional value and adds unnecessary calories to an already nutritionally challenged meal. Order plain water or unsweetened tea instead.
  • Avoid desserts. There are more than enough calories in fast food; there’s no need to add a sugary finale.
  • Opt out of cheese and condiments such as mayonnaise and tartar sauce, which can add unhealthy types of fat. Rare is the fast food restaurant that uses real cheese anyway. Use salsa, mustard or vinegar to add flavor as desired.

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