Fast Food Frenzy

July 11, 2007 by  
Filed under OBESITY

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By Laurie Barenblat

Fast Food Frenzy

A dependence on fast food is not new. Thousands of years ago ancient Roman cities had bread and olive stands, and five hundred years ago, Spaniards encountered tacos in the marketplace of today’s Mexico. In this country, in the 1900s, train travelers ate quick meals from the dining car. Then, “drive-in” restaurants developed in the 1950s, which evolved into the “drive-through” window of today.

Sometimes stopping at a “fast food” restaurant seems like the only option. Perhaps your whole group of friends is headed that way and you don’t want to miss out, the kids are begging mom and dad to make a stop, or you just feel there is no time for any other option. When these occasions arise, we must make the most of them.

Be Aware Of Portions

Deluxe, super, mega, and monster are all different sizes of “big.” Whether it is French fries, a burger, or a soda, bigger portions mean more calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. A super mega monster value meal can contain the amount of calories you need for an entire day, not just one meal. For most people, the small or regular size is enough. In fact, the kids’ meal can be a great option as well.

It Is Ok To Say “No”

Be prepared. You most likely will be asked if you would like to get the super or value size. But even if you will get more food for “less,” if it is more food than you need, be prepared, and ok with, saying “No, thank you.”

Split It

Halve the calories and double the pleasure by splitting a large meal with a friend.

Add A Side

French fries are not a vegetable! Add a side order of salad, raw vegetables, or fruit for added vitamins and fiber. Choose salads that have lots of greens. A Caesar salad is a good choice. (You don’t have to use the Caesar dressing that comes with it.) Also look for salads with vegetables such as broccoli or tomatoes.

Mix It Up

Try different types of fast food when you are on the go. Enjoy restaurants that serve fast ethnic foods, such as stir-fry dishes, tacos, burritos, sushi, falafel, and many other options.

Go Easy On The Extras

“Special sauces” and dressings can have a lot of extra fat and calories. Go for ketchup, mustard, and salsas, and ask for the others on the side so that you can add them yourself. Consider using only part of the dressing rather than the whole packet. Go for the veggies – ask for extra lettuce, tomato, and pickles to bulk up your sandwich.

Fried Sometimes

Choose fried foods “sometimes.” Try to eat grilled, broiled or steamed fast foods more often. Look for chicken tenders, which are real pieces of chicken, rather than reformed “nuggets.”

Even Better Pizza

If ordering pizza, opt for hand-tossed or thin-crust pizza, ask for extra vegetable toppings and forget the meats and extra cheese. You can request ½ of the cheese as well.

Don’t Drink It All

Calories add up quickly in drinks. A 32-ounce soda can contain 310 calories – the same as a small meal. Order a small soda, or better yet, drink low-fat milk or water instead. Refresh yourself by adding a lemon wedge to your water!

Look It Up

Consider looking up the nutrient information of the fast foods you most commonly eat. Most fast food restaurants have their nutrient information online now. If you decide what you can and should order before you arrive, it will make it easier to avoid the less nutritious, higher calorie options. Also, pay attention to changes in the menu and new offerings because many restaurants are finally starting to pay attention to the demand for healthy options. Many restaurants try new items out before they add them to the menu permanently.

Take Your Time

It takes 10 to 15 minutes for your brain to register that your body is full. Don’t feel compelled to eat everything.

And Enjoy!

All foods can fit into a well-balanced diet. Enjoy the foods that you love. Try to eat mindfully and be appreciative of the many food options we have at our fingertips – even when you do find yourself in a “fast food frenzy.”

Laurie Barenblat is a Nutrition Educator and Healthy Lifestyle Coach in Dallas, Texas. She offers creative, yet simple ways to help her clients create a healthier lifestyle with a focus on weight loss. She helps people change their habits so that today, tomorrow, and far into the future they will be looking and feeling their best. In addition to coaching individual clients, Laurie is a speaker, writer, and frequent contributor to the media. Visit her website and sign up for her free monthly newsletter.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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