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Fast Food and Dieting

It is not easy trying to manage the demands of work, family and a diet all at the same time and there are occasions when a visit through the drive-thru is just plain unavoidable. So what do you do when a take-out food is on the menu and you want to stick to your diet?

The first thing to do is to make a quick assessment of the different types of fast foods available in your area. Are you limited to hamburgers or fish and chips, or worse greasy chicken? Or is there more variety in your local shopping area? If you can you want to avoid foods that are deep fried, or that contain a lot of fat or sugars but that does leave you with a surprising number of other foods you can have.

If the only option you have available are hamburgers then go for a burger that has a high amount of salad toppings, such as lettuce, onions, tomatoes and beetroot in them, and less of the fried foods such as the meat pattie or melted cheese. Many hamburger places offer steak burgers which use real meat as opposed to fatty meat patties or you can go for a vegetarian option and just not eat the bun. Make sure you take advantage of any low-fat mayonnaise options the place might offer, or ask them not to include any sauces on your burger if you are not sure what is being used.

Many of the fast food chains have come to appreciate the need for healthy alternatives to their traditional fare. McDonalds for example now offer wraps, salads, and low fat rolls as well as fruit, yogurts and fruit drinks as an alternative to fizzy (sugar laden) drinks. Subway has always had low-fat options for their rolls although you do need to watch those rolls that have meatballs or other potentially fatty meats as part of their ingredients.

Chicken and fish are both healthy foods when they are cooked right, but in the fast food industry it is difficult to get either that aren’t drenched in fat or batter. If a fried chicken outlet is your only option for food then ask for medium to large portions of their side salads such as bean salad or coleslaw (without dressing if possible) and remove the skin from the chicken before eating. Likewise grilled fish is fine, but steer away from battered or deep fried fish. Although many places now use a lower saturated fat to deep fry their products, most deep fried foods still have too much fat in them to be helpful towards your diet.

If you have access to ethnic fast food options such as Lebanese, or Greek foods you can often get wraps made up of pita bread with healthy salad fillings. In Lebanese cooking most of the meat is roasted or flame grilled so much of the fat is lost in the cooking, making this a healthy alternative. If you decide Chinese food is the answer go for selections with plenty of lightly cooked vegetables and steer away from fried rice options.

Using the drive-thru does not have to mean that your diet has to go by the wayside. If you make sensible selections from the foods on offer, and steer away from the high-fat and high-calorie options you can still have a tasty meal and know you haven’t blown your calorie count for the day.