“Fast food fits my budget, and right now that’s the most important thing,” mentioned returning citizen Travis Moore, as he recalls a statement he made to his mother two years ago. “My mom wanted me to start eating healthy after she had a stroke at 55 years old, and at the time I wasn’t really listening to what she was saying, although I was concerned about her health,” he added.
He said that he was not paying attention because he needed to find ways to manage his budget, but after she suffered a stroke, he began to strongly consider finding a better way to eat, on his budget.
Travis Moore is not alone. Millions of people from across the country eat fast food. It’s cheap, convenient, filling (although temporary), and to some it tastes good. Right now in Germantown, Maryland, the local Burger King is participating in a pilot program that’s actually delivering food to customers.
If you are one of the people who are eating fast food, and cannot break the habit, or enjoy the taste but want to eat healthier, there are still options out there (it’s advised to change your diet all together and quit eating it). Still, in a bad economy the quick-and-cheap temptation can often be hard to resist. As an informed customer, though, you can make healthier choices and still enjoy the price and convenience of fast food restaurants.
Over the weekend the NBC 4 Health and Fitness Expo offered many anti-fast food options. The event logged in an estimated 85,000 attendees at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Organizations like the LUNGevity Foundation, HealthyWomen, and UCB, Inc are just a few who were present.
Typically, fast food is low in nutrition and high in trans fat, saturated fat, sodium, and calories. White Castle’s “hash bites” or “potato snakers” have 10 grams of trans fat. The American Heart Association recommends Americans to consume less than 2 grams of trans fat per day. Or a single meal of a Double Whopper with cheese, a medium order of fries, and an apple pie from Burger King contains more saturated fat than the American Heart Association recommends we consume in two days.
“I eat fast food still,” said Moore, “but I try to eat healthy. I went to a nutrition class out in southeast and I learned a bit aoutt moderation. The nutrition person wanted us to leave the fast food alone period, but I just couldn’t.”
If you can afford it, try some of these options;
Panera Bread – provides a wide variety of healthy menu options, half-sized portions, and organic chicken.
Jason’s Deli – uses organic ingredients and encourages portion control by offering smaller meals at a discounted price.
Au Bon Pain – serves healthy, low calories soups, salads, and sandwiches using whole grains and organic chicken.
Noodles and Company – cooks noodle bowls using healthy Soybean oil, fresh vegetables and organic meat and tofu.
Corner Bakery and Café – offers healthy breakfast choices, plus healthy salads, sandwiches, and soup.
Finding a healthy, well-balanced meal in most fast food restaurants can be a challenge, but there are always choices you can make that are healthier than others.
Less Healthy choices
- Double-patty hamburger with cheese, mayo, special sauce, and bacon
- Fried chicken sandwich
- Fried fish sandwich
- Salad with toppings such as bacon, cheese, and ranch dressing
- Breakfast burrito with steak
- French fries
- Chicken “nuggets” or tenders
- Adding cheese, extra mayo, and special sauces
- Regular, single-patty hamburger without mayo or cheese
- Grilled chicken sandwich
- Veggie burger
- Garden salad with grilled chicken and low-fat dressing
- Egg on a muffin
- Baked potato or a side salad
- Yogurt parfait
- Grilled chicken strips
- Limiting cheese, mayo, and special sauces
Less healthy choices
- Fried chicken, original or extra-crispy.
- Teriyaki wings or popcorn chicken
- Caesar salad
- Chicken and biscuit “bowl”
- Adding extra gravy and sauces
- Skinless chicken breast without breading
- Honey BBQ chicken sandwich
- Garden salad
- Mashed potatoes
- Limiting gravy and sauces
BAD Deluxe Breakfast, with a large biscuit and no syrup or margarine (1,150 calories, 60 grams of fat)
BETTER Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit, made with a regular-size biscuit (430 calories, 24 grams of fat)
BAD Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese (740 calories, 42 grams of fat)
BETTER Cheeseburger (300 calories, 12 grams of fat)
*Leave off the cheese and you’ll save 50 calories and 3 grams of fat!
BAD Premium Southwest Salad With Crispy Chicken (430 calories, 20 grams of fat)
BETTER Premium Caesar Salad With Grilled Chicken (220 calories, 6 grams of fat)
*Totals are without dressing. Remember, Caesar dressing is very high in fat and calories.
BAD Triple Whopper Sandwich With Cheese (1,250 calories, 84 grams of fat)
BETTER Hamburger (290 calories, 12 grams of fat)
BAD Large Salted French Fries (580 calories, 28 grams of fat)
BETTER BK Fresh Apple Fries With Caramel Sauce (70 calories, 0.5 grams of fat)
Wendy’s: Bad and Better Food Choices
BAD Chicken BLT Salad (470 calories, 27 grams of fat)
BETTER Mandarin Chicken Salad (180 calories, 2 grams of fat)
*Totals do not include dressing.
BAD Triple With Cheese (960 calories, 60 grams of fat)
BETTER Jr. Hamburger (220 calories, 8 grams of fat)
BAD Bacon Cheeseburger (920 calories, 62 grams of fat)
BETTER Little Hamburger (480 calories, 26 grams of fat)
BAD Mayonnaise (100 calories, 11 grams of fat—in 14 grams)
BETTER Mustard or hot sauce (0 calories, 0 grams of fat)
BAD 6-inch Double Meatball Marinara With Cheese (860 calories, 42 grams of fat)
BETTER Jared Sandwich: 6-inch Turkey Breast (280 calories, 4.5 grams of fat)
BAD Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki (210 calories, 3 grams of fat)
BETTER Oven-Roasted Chicken Breast With Fat-Free Italian Dressing (175 calories, 2.5 grams of fat)
Network Events, Inc. (NEI) and NBC4 put on the event. The NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo, the largest, best-attended Consumer Wellness Expo in the country.