You've read the studies that say a typical fast food meal exceeds the recommended daily allowance of calories, sodium, and saturated fat, and you know that eating fast food regularly can lead to lasting problems--obesity, clogged arteries, heart problems, etc. But you also know that finding time to prepare meals is difficult.
Johnny needs to be at baseball practice, and Susie is late for dance class. The baby is sick, and you have to squeeze in a visit to the doctor. Jim is working late, and you have a book club meeting. Sometimes a family sit-down meal is simply out of the question. But that doesn't mean that you can't make the best of a bad situation and help your family make healthy fast food choices.
It may come as a surprise to some people, but it is actually possible to eat a healthy meal at a fast food restaurant. Owners of fast food chains know the bulk of their customers don't seem concerned about the dangers of consuming a fat-filled burger, but there is an ever growing segment of the American public that is looking for a healthy choice in fast food. And the chains are listening. Changes in fast food menus are creating a stir. Items such as soups, salads and yogurt are becoming more and more common. Healthy choices are appreciated by the clientele. As the chains realize this, choices for healthy eating will increase.
Sometimes You Simply Can't Resist
Although it's best to not indulge at all, there are times when the aroma of fries and grilled meat seem irresistible. If you find it necessary to give in to this overwhelming temptation, remember one simple rule--moderation in all things. An order of fries by itself probably won't kill you, it's the cumulative effect of eating an excess of grease, calories, and fats on a regular basis that could be detrimental to your health. Treat yourself occasionally, but only occasionally!
Study Dietary Guides
The nutritional content of items on a fast food restaurant's menu is available. A small request and a little research will lead you to lists comparing calories, fat, percentages of saturated fat, and other useful information about everything you can buy at most fast food restaurants. Examining the lists will help you determine how much of what item will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Extras May Be Detrimental to Your Health
Just because you order a salad don't think you've made the ultimate in healthy choices. Consider what you add to the salad. If you pour a ton of high-calorie dressing on and top it off with bacon bits, you've defeated the purpose. Your "healthy" salad may end up being a worse choice than a burger with fries. Make sure your salad has fresh vegetables. Use grilled, not fried, toppings and small portions of light or fat free dressing.
Pay Attention to Portion Size
When eating at a fast food restaurant, staying healthy isn't always your primary reason for being there; it is convenience that people love. But when you see the scrumptious images prominently displayed "for your convenience" on a glossy surface, it's tempting to order large portion of whatever looks the best to you at that moment. After all, if a quarter pounder is good, a half pounder will be twice as good, and while you're at it, a double order of fries should hit the spot. Control yourself and pay attention to portion size; you'll be glad you did when you step on the scale the next day, or when the test results come back from your next physical exam.
Bad Choices Build Over Time, So Do Good Choices
Just as your arteries become clogged after years of consuming the wrong things on a regular basis, you can maintain your health by watching what you eat, and getting enough exercise. Even eating fast food occasionally won't hurt, providing you do it in moderation and pay attention to what you're eating. Making the right choices will pay off in the long run. The effects of bad choices are cumulative, but so are the effects of better choices.