Every street seems to have a fast-food restaurant in major cities across the United States. This makes it more difficult to resist the allure of fast-food, the fatty, greasy and cheesy burgers, hotdogs and sandwiches paired with fries, onion rings and soda a constant call to temptation.
But don’t dismiss fast-food chains for being the purveyors of the unhealthiest food known to man! Due to the increasing pressure from consumers, health experts and other stakeholders, many of the largest fast-food chains are offering healthier options. The trick is in finding the healthy buried underneath the unhealthy food, as well as in customizing your orders for lower calories, fats and sodium content.
Here, we will take a look at a few of the fairly healthful options offered by the major fast-food chains. You should be able to find other options, too, since these companies continue adding more to their menus.
Subway Has Sandwiches and Salads for the Taking
Subway is, of course, known for its subs and affordable prices, deli-style sandwiches that pile on the veggies, meats and sauce. You can customize your orders so it can be as healthy or unhealthy as you want. You may want to skip the processed meats – or at least, limit their amount on your sub – and add more veggies like lettuce, tomatoes and olives.
But if customizing your order seems like too much of an effort, you can still find healthy subs on its menu. You may want to choose from the Fresh Fit menu since the subs are relatively healthy. Your best choice: The 6-inch Turkey Breast sandwich, a treat with a nine-grain wheat bread that contains just 250 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 0.5 grams of saturated fat.
For an even healthier sub, you can order the Veggie Delite. It has just 200 calories, 3 grams total fat and – get this – zero saturated fat.
Subway also has customizable salads, which contain less calories than sandwiches. Pile on the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, spinach, olives, green pepper and cucumber.
McDonald’s Fillet-O-Fish Is a Surprise
The largest fast-food chain in the world has a reputation for offering unhealthy fare. But it didn’t become the behemoth it is now without effective management! In line with consumer demand, it has included healthier options.
You should check out the Fillet-O-Fish with just 390 calories, 19 grams total fat and 4 grams saturated fat. Plus, it’s a delicious and filling meal on its own. Surprisingly, the Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken salad only has 320 calories despite its hefty appearance and hearty portion; it has 14 grams total fat and 6 grams saturated fat.
We expect that McDonald’s will introduce more healthy options on its menu considering the increasing popularity of the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. Besides, it will want to stay on top of the industry and among the best ways to do so is to reach out to the vegan and vegetarian groups.
Taco Bell Rings in Healthy Food
Like Subway, Taco Bell allows its customers to customize many of its orders as well as offers healthful options. You can add more vegetables, for example, so you won’t feel guilty about eating one too many burritos.
Plus, nearly three-quarters of the food items on its menu is under 500 calories. If you choose the healthful options, you may even get away with eating your breakfast and dinner at Taco Bell!
Our recommendations are on the Fresco menu where food items have a vegetable-based salsa. The regular sauce and cheese toppings can be unhealthy.
Tip: Get the Chicken Soft Taco since it only has 170 calories and the Bean Burrito with 380 calories.
Other fast-food chains with healthful options are Wendy’s, Chipotle and Chick-fil-A. You may even be able to ask the staff for their recommendations as well as check the foods’ nutritional content on the menu and the websites. You have to be creative in getting more nutritious food even when you’re in a fast-food restaurant.
In general, the healthy food options include vegetarian dishes, chicken-based dishes and customizable options. You can find more information by reading the companies’ description of the food, reading customer reviews, and asking the staff. If the staff doesn’t seem helpful in providing information, then you may not be in the right restaurant.
We also want to emphasize that calories, fat and sodium content aren’t the be-all and end-all of choosing healthy food at fast-food restaurants. Yes, these are useful tools but these don’t paint the entire picture.
Keep in mind that if you eat only fast-food fare day in and day out, you’re not getting the recommended daily amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals. You should then eat more homecooked meals filled with fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, nuts and seeds, dairy products and lean meat, and fish.
The more varied your daily diet, the healthier you will likely be!