Fast Food Nutrition and Substitution Ideas

Twenty years ago, fast food nutrition was practically non-existent. No one offered a calorie count for your meal, there were no informational sheets available, and no one boasted about losing hundreds of pounds by eating exclusively from one fast food restaurant for a few years. Times have changed and fast food nutrition has gone main-stream. Read on to learn about your best options, what to avoid, and how you can skip the drive-through altogether.

Healthy fast food sounds like an oxymoron.

However, healthy eating has found a solid place in fast food restaurants. Most place offer heart-healthy choices, low fat choices, or low sodium choices. Many kids’ meals offer milk and fruit cups as substitutes for soda pop and fries. It is possible to go to fast food restaurants and eat something delicious without regret.

So what are your best choices for fast food nutrition?

Whole wheat breads and baked potatoes are good sources of fiber. Deli sandwiches (on whole wheat) can give you protein without excess fat. Salads without dressing or dressing on the side are the best for controlling calories. Fruit and yogurt are sometimes offered with salads or on the breakfast menu.

A single small hamburger can be a healthy source of protein and iron. Plain grilled chicken and fish sandwiches are the leanest forms of protein. To make the most of your healthy sandwich choice, be sure to leave off any special sauces or high-calorie condiments.

If you order a salad, go for a vinaigrette dressing instead of a cream-based dressing.

You can cut more than a hundred calories with this choice alone. Also, empty calories are usually found in most fast food beverages. Soda, shakes, and other sweetened drinks need to be avoided. Diet soda has plenty of acid and artificial additives to stay away from. Choose water, iced tea, or milk instead.

Some great fast food ideas can come right from your own kitchen.

Make snack bags with dried fruit and nuts. Bring fresh fruit such as cut apples, bananas, and grapes in plastic kitchen zipper bags. Be sure you have some hand wipes to clean up the natural stickiness from the fruit. For a more filling snack, cut up some small chunks of cheese and put them in a zipper bag with whole grain crackers.

Every family has nights when it’s difficult to squeeze in supper. You need not go through the drive-through if you have a few meals frozen ahead of time. When cooking your family’s favorite dishes, make a double batch and freeze part for a second meal.

Make your own hot pocket sandwiches.

Use pre-made or frozen dough from the grocery store, roll flat, and fill with a variety of meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The combinations are only limited by your imagination. Bake them according to the dough’s directions and freeze. For best results, reheat in a toaster oven or conventional oven at 300 degrees until warmed and crisp. If you need to heat them faster, allow them to thaw overnight and reduce heating time in the oven.

Fast food restaurants used to be a haven for greasy unhealthy food indulgences. While this remains true in some ways, people are using fast food substitution ideas to get through their busy schedules without sacrificing nutrition. Use the ideas above to make sure you and your family can eat fast food and still mind your nutrition- staying healthy.

You might also find the following helpful:

Children's BMI Chart

School Lunch Ideas

Fitness for Kids

Child Fever Basics

Picky Eaters 101




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