Q: Fast food is often my only on-the-go option. How can I make healthier choices at fast food places?
A: Sometimes it’s inevitable: hunger strikes and leads you straight to the drive-through. Fortunately, “nutritious fast food” isn’t necessarily an oxymoron, as most fast
food outlets offer healthier options. The key, says Kelly Berg, a
registered dietitian with Alberta Health Services in Edmonton,
is to know what to order (hint: think grilled and green) and
what to avoid.
The following tips will help you navigate any fast food menu.
She adds these are just a few examples from a few food outlets
and that the nutritional content of food varies widely from outlet
to outlet. Berg also recommends limiting eating out.
When in doubt about the nutritional content of an outlet’s
offerings, Berg advises going online: most restaurants’ websites
list their menus’ nutritional information.
Kelly Berg is a registered dietitian with Alberta Health Services
Mcdonald’s, Wendy’s & Kentucky Fried chicken
The holy trinity of fast food, the trio’s menus aren’t altogether virtuous. Be
sure to choose single patty burgers and avoid bacon, cheese and anything
“crispy,” “breaded” or “fried.” Swap creamy dressings for vinaigrettes and
swap the large serving for the small serving whenever possible.
Better bets include McDonald’s One Chicken Fajita and Wendy’s Junior
hamburger (no mayo). As for KFC? Take a pass.
Starbucks, Tim Hortons
Coffee drinks can have as many calories and as much fat as fried chicken.
Skip flavoured syrups and whipped cream; try unsweetened iced tea or a
skim-milk latte. And be wary of “low-fat” labels: Tim hortons’ low-fat double
berry muffin has 30 grams of sugar—twice that of a glazed cinnamon roll!
healthier selections include oatmeal (opt for plain or berry varieties) and
low-fat yogurt with berries.
Smoothies may seem diet-friendly, but many juice
blends overflow with calories and sugar. Jugo Juice’s
24-ounce Banana Buzz smoothie has 510 calories
(a Big Mac has 540) and 82 grams of sugar (over 20
Choose a small smoothie made with only fruit and
low-fat milk or yogurt, such as Jugo Juice’s Snackin’
Smoothie (about 150 calories).
Watch the sodium in Japanese restaurants—a bowl of
edo Japan’s udon soup packs 3,000 milligrams! (The
recommended daily limit for adults is 2,300 mg.) Ask
for low-sodium soy sauce (use sparingly) and go easy
on the teriyaki sauce, which is laden with sodium and
sugar. Bypass tempura- and mayo-based rolls (e.g.,
leaner picks include sashimi and nigiri.
— Megan MacMillan
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For more tips on eating well while dining
out, visit the dietitians of canada website: