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Little Known Fast Food Facts and What to Order, if Your Only Option

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It is inevitable for many Americans that their family may eat fast food on occasion.  So it’s good to know what the better options are for families and kids.

Fast food is a popular choice in the US, for its perceived convenience and appeal, reinforced by advertising. Here are some important considerations:

  • Each day, almost a third of US children and adolescents eat a fast food meal.
  • Keep in mind that the portions sizes are not the same as they were when you were a kid.
  • Fast food can sometimes pack in two to three times as many calories today than it did 20 years ago.
  • But you can choose healthy foods when eating on the go. Most of the chains provide either on-line or on-sight nutrition information, so be sure to use the information to help you make the best choices.

The first thing you want to watch is the calories:

  • A quarter pounder with cheese, large French fries, and a 12 oz soda will cost you around 1120 calories. If you split an order of French fries, skip the soda, and have a regular hamburger, your meal will only be about 440 calories.
  • Of course, all calories aren’t created equal. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins are all related to better health and energy, and you’re missing out on all of these when you have a fast-food meal. So a hamburger and fries shouldn’t be weekly choices, and I don’t recommend soda (diet or regular) for kids.

What should you order when fast food is your only option?

  • Opt for a grilled chicken sandwich without the special sauces. Some chains offer meal size salads, which are a good option too, but be cautious of how much dressing you use —some contain upwards of 200 calories.
  • And when those fries are really hard to resist, split a small or medium order as a family.

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Comment on Little Known Fast Food Facts and What to Order, if Your Only Option

2 Responses to “ Little Known Fast Food Facts and What to Order, if Your Only Option ”

  1. Erica Timmermann on March 20th, 2010 6:20 am

    This is a great point! Being aware of what foods are high in fat versus lower in fat when dining out can help save calories and still make it possible to eat a somewhat healthy meal.
    This reminds me of a challenge that competitors on the Biggest Loser had to follow. They had to eat every meal out for an entire week. Can you imagine? After a short lesson from their trainers, they were able to distinguished healthier food choices from those higher in fat on several popular fast food restaurant menus. Despite eating out for the whole week, all of the contestants were still able to lose weight while continuing to follow their daily exercise routine, reinforcing that it is possible to eat healthy when dining out.

  2. Jo Lynn Worden on March 24th, 2010 11:35 am

    We all grew up eating Fast Food and many families think “what’s the harm, I ate it.” But you make good points about the increase in portion sizes. When I was young, a hamburger was simply a hamburger. Now it is a double cheese bacon burger or some other type burger with enough fat calories for half a day. Great tips to put it all in perspective for families and offering them some alternatives.

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