Whenever we go to a fast food restaurant, we think about many things subconsciously. This article will list the top 10 things to consider when buying fast food.
These tips will include everything from nutrition to pricing. A big part of it will be to help you make wiser food decisions such as healthier or smaller options.
1. Always Check the Nutritional Content
Everyone knows that fast food meals tend to be higher in fats and calories because a lot of it is deep fried and greasy. But with the popularity of healthy foods, fast food restaurants have introduced many meals that are surprisingly healthy.
The thing to keep in mind is that you should always check the nutrition. Although it’s best to look at the entire nutrition of a meal (including calories, fats, carbs, sodium, and so on), you should at least look at the calories.
With the passage of Obamacare, all fast food restaurants will be required to show the calories for each item on their menu. As you might have noticed, most restaurants have already implemented this change so you shouldn’t have an excuse not to look at calories.
2. Compare Prices of Individual Items with Those of Combos
Sometimes an individual item with a side can be more expensive than a combo. You should look over all prices and make sure you make the best financial decisions.
Even though the price difference might not be substantial, it will add up over time. Imagine if you always spend an extra $1.50 because you choose the more expensive combination of food items. If you eat at fast food restaurants 50 times a year (or about once a week), you could be wasting more than $75.
3. Consider the Value or Dollar Menus
Many people consider value or dollar menus to be cheap low-quality food so they immediately skip it. But you should reconsider that decision. Some value meals are fairly healthy and not any worse than rest of the meals.
For example, in the McDonalds dollar menu, you will find Apple Slices and a side salad, both of which are very healthy. Even though the McChicken sandwich is not as healthy as those two, it certainly is not bad if you eat only one for a meal.
The best thing about value or dollar menus is that they will save you money. One of the main reasons people buy food at fast food restaurants is to save money.
4. Skip the Mayo or Go Easy on It
Mayonnaise is one of those condiments that can be very tasty but it’s literally just fat. It has very low carb or protein content so it really doesn’t have a good nutritional value.
The best thing to do would be to skip adding mayo to your meal, but as many of us love mayo, you can also choose to go easy on it. Either tell the restaurant to go easy on the mayo or scrape some of it off with a knife.
Although they taste very different, consider using a less fattening condiment such as ketchup or mustard.
5. Avoid Fried Foods
We all love fried chicken, but we need to understand that small portions and moderation are the only way we can consume these foods. Eating fried foods in high quantity is bound to cause you health problems sooner or later.
Fried foods tend to be very high in fat, including trans fat, so the nutrition should be observed very carefully. Don’t pig out on fried foods as that could have life-changing consequences. Remember — moderation, moderation, and moderation!
6. Watch Your Meal Portions
The easiest way to lose weight or maintain your current weight is to control your meal portions. If you find yourself gaining weight, it is time to make your meals smaller.
You need to start looking at food as vital energy for your body and not as enjoyment for yourself. Overeating can have the opposite effect of providing energy for your body as your body needs to work harder to burn and digest the extra calories.
7. Skip the Soft Drink or Go Small
Just as bad as fried foods are, foods with high sugar content are not much better. We need some sugar to survive, but many soft drinks have too much sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate, which means that if you don’t burn that immediately, your body will convert it to fat for later usage.
One way to avoid sugars is to just just avoid soft drinks. If you absolutely need a drink or don’t want to deal with caffeine withdrawals, go for a small soft drink. It will provide you with the caffeine you need with the least amount of sugar.
8. Choose Small Sides
This will highly depend on what type of side you choose, but if you’re getting one of the popular sides such as French fries, you should choose the smallest option. Some restaurants offer many sizes, but value or small sizes are usually the smallest.
When you compare small French fries with large French fries from McDonalds, you will see that the large has more than twice the calories. The small fries are at 230 calories, while the large are at 500. That should make it for an easy choice!
9. Salads Are Delicious
Just about every fast food restaurant offers various salads these days. Although its nutritional content depends on what salad dressing you choose, most salads end up being much lower in calories than burgers and fries.
If you get a salad with chicken, make sure to always go for grilled chicken over fried chicken. The grilled chicken will generally have less carbs and contain more protein.
Using the McDonalds Grilled Chicken Salad as an example, we can see that it only has 190 calories without dressing. Adding a salad dressing can increase the calories quickly. With the creamy Caesar dressing, the calories double up to 380. Although that seems very high, it is still less than most burgers. Besides, you can go for a lower-calorie salad dressing such as Balsamic Vinaigrette, which is only 40 calories.
10. Eat Fast Food in Moderation
The most important lesson of all is that you should eat your fast food in moderation. In fact, you can apply that to everything in life. Moderation is key to staying in shape and healthy and allowing your body to function as intended.
Fast food in moderation is actually good for you. It can save you time, money, and there are many healthy meals that should help you stay fit.
Remember, eating any foods in excess will leave you with a calorie surplus, which in turn will cause you to gain weight. That’s why I said earlier that it’s good to follow the moderation rule to everything in life.
Is there anything left after these 10 tips? Of course there is. There is always something new to learn. The fast food industry is changing fast and you should keep up with it if you eat there often. Follow our blog for future articles that will help you make the best fast food decisions.