It’s true that if you head to the drive-thru of your favorite fast food restaurant, the odds are that you won’t be buying anything that is good for you daily nutrition – or your waistline, for that matter. Even the healthier choices often appear to have some lurking “badness” underneath, such as the hidden fats in your granola yogurt, or the hidden sugars in your freshly squeezed juice.
Demanding Nutrition from Fast Food
But people have been demanding healthier menus from fast food restaurants, and many of those companies have not failed to pay attention. Last year, the fast food spending on the United States, alone, was $179 billion. That’s about twice the amount spent last year on weight loss products. What that – and the ongoing popularity of documentaries such as Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation – is telling the companies is that it is worthwhile to continue to appeal to customers. They want their food, they want it fast, and they’re willing to pay for it.
Is There a Healthy Fast Food Meal?
It is unlikely that you will ever be able to find a meal at a fast food restaurant that is as healthy as one that you make, from scratch, at home, using primarily fresh vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. However, according to a report from 2011 that studied 28 countries, the U.S. is at the very bottom of the ranks when it comes to the number of people who actually cook their own food three times per day, and the amount of time that is spent for this purpose. Equally, Americans were also among the leaders in the obesity rate. Nearly one in five Americans currently identify themselves as “fast food junkies”.
So if it doesn’t seem likely that quitting will come anytime soon, the question is whether or not it will be possible to keep up the habit, but make healthier choices – genuinely healthier choices, not simply those that are marketed that way. Fortunately, many fast food chains are actually trying.
Efforts for Nutrition from Fast Food Chains
Certain chains, for example, are now using antibiotic-free meat. Many are also working on gradually phasing out suppliers who use factory farmed meat. These are becoming exceptionally popular options.
Similarly, there have been some efforts that have flopped, such as the fruit-based French fries, oatmeal, and whole wheat donuts.
We Want a Tasty Treat
It is clear that taste is still the main driver when it comes to buying fast food. There is no appeal for spending the money on healthy fast food if it doesn’t taste very good. Therefore, while you shouldn’t expect the ideal options to necessarily pop up overnight, you should expect that you will see a growing number appearing over time, as companies start to get it right. As they learn to produce tasty, healthy food, you will be able to order a larger number of items that are actually good for you, even if you’re sitting at the drive-thru window.
Do We Have to Stop Eating Fast Food to be Healthy?
Of course not! The key is the way that you look to nutrition from fast food restaurants. If you find yourself having to go there on more than just the rare occasion, then you will need to have a strategy in place. The following are a few of the things you can do to keep your nutrition under control when you need to order from a fast food menu:
- Drink water – A soda is packed with sugar and a surprising amount of salt, too. Choosing the diet/zero cal varieties aren’t much better for you. Moreover juice is also mainly just sugar. These drinks will spike your sugar and calorie intake without providing you with any real nutritional value. Skip them altogether and have water instead.
- Watch your sides – If there is an option for a salad instead of fries, choose the salad. Even if it costs a little bit more, the difference it will make in your body will be well worth it.
- Order condiments and dressings on the side – If you order a burger, ask for it to be made plain so you can add the condiments yourself. Skip the mayo and add only as much of these topics as you actually need. Nobody needs their burger to be oozing toppings! Equally, ask for dressing on the side of your salad. This allows you to gauge exactly how much you will be eating. Pre-dressed salads usually have far more dressing than you need.
Remember, those rules are mainly for times when you can’t avoid getting your nutrition from fast food restaurants. If you’re only having one of these meals every couple of months or so as a rare treat, enjoy your favorites. After all, if you continually deprive yourself of everything you love, even when you’re having a rare treat, then you’re not living life to its fullest. Isn’t the whole reason you’re trying to keep yourself healthy so that you’ll improve your quality of life?
Just don’t go completely over the top when you do order your meal. Sure, you can get your favorite selections, but remember that you don’t need an extra large fries when a small order will do the trick!