Fast food restaurants are spreading throughout the world, even being established in hospitals. Now-a-days most of us lead busy lives. The constant pressure to establish ourselves socially and financially makes us ignore our health. It is found that because of growing fast food chains, obesity has become very common problem among majority of the population.
Interesting fact is children and teenagers are also not untouched with this problem. Moreover some chains even offer combo packs, where multiple items can be purchased for reduced price. Most of the fast foods are high in saturated fats. Many of us go for the combo packs and end up consuming more calories and fat than required. Fried foods especially French fries, tend to contain trans-fats which are worse than saturated fats. Though few establishments do offer low calorie healthier options, the overwhelming majority of the fast foods we eat such as burger, pizza, chicken bucket, etc., are loaded with fat, salt, calories and low amounts of fiber.
So the question arises why people are actually attracted towards such foods even when they know how unhealthy they are. The appropriate answer could be WE are busy and fast foods act as convenient food. Another reason can be we stay alone and do not find time to cook or are just lazy. Here fast foods come to the help. They are easy to carry and quick to finish. Since they are high in fats and salt they taste better than the healthier options. We can grab a burger or sandwich and eat it even in the car before we reach office. Here, another question arises than what is the solution for this. Avoiding fast food completely is not possible for many.
So the best solution can be – Choose Healthy Fast Food Wisely.
- Many fast food establishments offer healthier options in their menu such as salads, soups, low fat yogurts and juices. Some chains provide nutrition analysis of the items of their menu. These are either available on their websites or on their menu. This can really help a diet conscious diner to make healthy choice.
- If your favorite food chain doesn’t offer any of the above, you can at least make your food lighter just by selecting the right toppings and a healthy dip such as vegetable topping instead of cheese and low-fat yogurt dip instead of mayonnaise.
Following wise choices can make your food and ultimately you healthy.
• Burger or sandwich: Select a multi-grain bread for your sandwich or burger instead of white bread. This will at least add lots of fiber and few nutrients. Order it with fresh vegetable stuffing or low fat meat. Avoid adding cheese or mayonnaise.
• French fries: If you are tempted to have French fries, order large wide cut chips. They absorb less oil than the skinny ones. Also do not add salt. To enhance the flavor, add pepper and vinegar. You might not need ketchup if you use vinegar. Vinegar do not have fat and contain negligible amount of calories.
• Tacos: Traditional tacos are loaded with cheese. So always try to stick to one taco only. Order a plate of salad without dressing to fill your stomach.
• Pizzas: The name itself is mouthwatering. I am sure this is one of the rare fast food which is an all-time favorite of all generations. Unfortunately, it is loaded with too much saturated fat. One 35 Cm pizza contains 40-95 grams of fat. So the best we can do is to –
1. Try to stick to one slice. Order some salad or lime juice with it.
2. Cut down on cheese. Ask for less cheese. If your pizza has toppings of vegetables or chicken, avoid taking cheese at all.
3. Lean meats are better options than fatty sausages. So choose your toppings wisely. Load it with grilled vegetables. Do not add too much salt or ketchup. Instead ask for vinegar. This combination will not harm your body but also satisfy your taste buds.
• Salads: Salads can be a healthier choice but not always. Not only vegetable salads but also grilled fish salad and chicken salads are also good. Many chains offer salads with olive oil. Olive oil is a very rich source of unsaturated fatty acids which makes this oil very good for us. But after all it’s an oil. Excess intake can help you put on weight. Some salads are tossed with cheese. So while ordering any salad ask for no dressing. If olive oil is being used, ask for less oil, if not, avoid completely.
• Pasta: Pasta in red sauce is a better option than in white sauce. The former contains less cheese and no refined flour. Whereas Pasta in white sauce is loaded with cheese and refined flour in milk. Also select wheat or rice pasta instead of refined flour. Some chains do provide information about the pasta or macaroni they offer in their menu.
• Ready Fruit Juices: No fruit juices are not fast food but obviously convenient food. Fresh fruit juices are always better if you cannot eat a whole fruit which is the best option. However, the ready drinks and tetra pack drinks or other non-carbonated beverages are often loaded with sugar and no real fruit. Though few companies claim that their products provide natural fruit and no added flavors, while purchasing make sure to check the food label properly. Food labels give you complete information about their product. Grab a glass of Fresh lime juice if you cannot find other alternative. Just remember natural foods are always better than the packaged ones.
Consultant Nutritionist, DietVita