Let’s face it—as much as we’d like to eliminate fast food from our diets, for most people, it’s just not that easy. Convenience is really the main factor here. Well, that and (for me) the tasteful satisfaction of a cheeseburger, French fries and Dr. Pepper. Cruising by a drive-thru simply requires less effort, time and energy—three things that are precious in a life of eight-hour work days and errand-filled evenings. Though it’s easier to ignore the facts, eating out frequently can take a toll on our health. Somewhere between the greasy pepperoni pizza and meatball subs we have to draw a line.
As a college student, I could be considered one of the biggest contributors to the fast food fixation enveloping our nation. To be completely honest, I believe that I could single-handedly keep Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s in business with my consistent lunch orders. Since I know that fast food is going to be part of my eating habits (but I don’t want it to be the cause of my death), I have decided to enlighten myself, and others, to a healthier way of drive-thru dining.
Grilled vs. Fried
Undeniably, we love to fried food. From chicken to Twinkies—dunk it in grease, cover it in batter, and we’ll devour it. The problem lies in the health affects of our infatuation with this type of cooking. Most fried foods are cooked in various oils that are bad for our bodies. The fat (including the worst kinds of trans and saturated) is more absorbed when batter is present. More fat equals higher cholesterol—gross.
A probable solution? On most (if not all) menus, there are “grilled” selections available. Simply put, food that is grilled avoids exposure to so much “bad” fat. A healthier option leads to a more positive physical state; something anyone should appreciate.
Be Wise about Sides
I’d be willing to challenge anyone who claims to love French fries more than me. I’m not picky about what type of fry—they can be steak, waffle or curly—and it may be considered an addiction. No matter how much I crave that salted side item, I hear the nagging voice of truth screaming, “Fried food is bad!” in my ears. It’s an uphill battle, but I’m conquering my habit—one potato wedge at a time.
I’m beginning to embrace fresh fruit as a healthy alternative. Fortunately, I actually find myself feeling more physically content after downing a small bowl of strawberries, grapes and apples than a carton of fries. If fruit isn’t your thing, there are several other savory (and nourishing) sides: salad, baked potato, cole slaw, soup, yogurt, etc.
I’ll Drink to That
It’s probably overwhelmingly obvious in reasoning, but water is the best beverage of choice. You really can’t go wrong with drinking water—it contains absolutely no unhealthy elements. Most fast food chains carry bottled versions for meals, or one can ask for water in a cup and save some money (it’s free).
Soft drinks contain exorbitant amounts of sugar and calories, which ends up having a negative affect on different aspects of one’s well being (tooth decay, weight gain, caffeine dependency, etc). If you feel the occasional urge to have a soda, opt for a diet selection to cut down on some nutritional deficits.
Act Like a Kid Again
Though it may feel silly to order a kiddy meal for your adult self, the portion size is definitely beneficial. At Chick-fil-A, a “kid pack” has half the amount of chicken nuggets than that of an “adult” No. 8 (four nuggets versus eight nuggets). Also, often times children’s meals already come with a healthier side item (for example, apples or mandarin oranges).
If kid’s options don’t satisfy your hunger (and you can’t appreciate the fun action figures included), stick with a regular-size serving. This means one must steer clear of words like “Biggie” or “Super-sized.”
This is probably the most apparent (yet, most difficult) information about fast food: Limit the amount you eat. I know, I know—it’s much easier said than actually executed. Setting a meal plan can be helpful; allocate days that you will bring lunch, cook at home and dine out. Then, follow through. It may not be as easy to form a healthy habit as it was to accomplish an unhealthy one, but it actually is attainable. And your body will thank you.
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