Fast Food Beyond Burgers

If you're in a fast-food rut, look around for some quick and different approaches to fast-food eating:

  • Sushi bar • Submarine sandwich spot
  • Wrap restaurant • Bakery-shop deli
  • Noodle shop like fries with that?" or "Do you want the value size?" It's okay to say "no."
  • Go easy on snacks. A large order of fries and a large soft drink can add up to a hefty 650 or more calories!
  • Split your order. Halve the calories and double the pleasure—share your fries or sandwich with a friend!
  • Decide before you order whether the "value meal" is a good deal. If you don't need the extra food, there's really no extra value; smaller may cost less. Sharing may be a good deal.

For more food variety...

  • For flavor and nutrition, consider the other foods you have eaten—or will eat—during the day. Order fruits, vegetables, calcium-rich foods, and even whole grains if you can.
  • Select a side of salad, raw vegetables, or coleslaw for added vitamins A and C, and fiber. Boost your calcium intake with reduced-fat, low-fat, or fat-free milk.
  • Try different types of fast foods, not the same foods every day.
  • Enjoy fast-food outlets that serve ethnic foods: perhaps Chinese stir-fry dishes, a Mexican burrito, Japanese domburi, or a vegetable-stuffed pita with cucumber-yogurt dressing. Often food courts in shopping malls allow you to travel the world of flavor without leaving home.

Trim the calories and fat...

  • Learn to spot high-fat foods—then go easy.
  • On sandwiches and salads, go easy on condiments, special sauces, and dressings. Just one packet of mayonnaise (about 1 tablespoon) adds about 60 calories and 5 fat grams. The same size packet of tartar sauce has about 70 calories and 8 fat grams. And a 1 Vi-ounce packet of French dressing contains about 185 calories and 17 fat grams. Ask for mustard, catsup, salsa, or low-fat or fat-free condiments, spreads, and dressings (mayonnaise, sour cream, or cream cheese).
  • For fried foods, pay attention to the oil used for frying. Most fast-food chains use 100 percent vegetable oil, which may be identified on the menu. Vegetable oil is cholesterol-free and high in polyunsaturated fatty acids; the oil used for frying in the fast-food industry is often high in trans fatty acids. See "About Trans Fats " in chapter 3. And when French fries and other foods are fried in fat that's partly beef tallow, these foods contain more cholesterol and saturated fats.
  • Better yet, choose fried foods only as "sometimes" foods. Rely mostly on grilled, broiled, steamed, or microwaved fast foods instead.
  • Read on for more fast-food tips. Check "FFF— Fast Food Facts" in this chapter, or look for nutrition information on posters, in brochures, or online.

Lighten up on salt...

Many fast foods are high in sodium—a challenge if you're sodium-sensitive. For less salt and sodium, ask for unsalted fries. Skip special sauces, pickles, olives, relish bacon, sausage, ham, and deli meat.

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