Sometimes, you just want a burger and fries. You have to have them. Really. I know! So, where does this fit into a healthy lifestyle? Or, do we have to give up the fast food trips for the rest of our lives?
I am going to encourage you to approach this with moderation instead of with a "never, no way, bad-stuff" attitude. Fast food eating can be part of a healthy lifestyle once in awhile, it just should be looked at with a yellow light: caution.
When McDonald's started the fast food industry, they only served small burgers and small fries, as did all of the restaurants that jumped on board. Over the years, portion sizes have grown enormously, and so has the body size of the average American. Coincidence? Hmmm...Most people don't even think of ordering the small burger and fries anymore. It's the big burger, or double, tripled patties with all the stuff on it. Wendy's Baconator Triple is 2660 calories of which 1560 calories are from fat with 76 grams of saturated fat. After eating one of those, you could just imagine your arteries clogging shut... a heart attack is served on the side!
So, how do we manage to stay healthy and survive the fast food fest now and then?
- Think kid-size! Those are what used to be normal portions, so go back and be a kid again. If you are craving the taste of a burger and some fries, a kid's meal is just the ticket. Really. I've ordered these for myself for years. No one checks ID's, you get all the taste, portion control, and you get a toy!
- Burger Bites: Order single, regular burgers. Lettuce, mustard, ketchup, and tomato you can add to your heart's content. If you decide on cheese, use one slice. That will add about 50 calories. Very occasionally, if you are really craving a specialty burger, try to monitor the amount you eat. Portion control it. Take a friend with you to split your indulgence. Take care of your heart!
- Small Fries. You want fries with that? Remember, the first bite tastes the same as the last, so why do you need twice as much to enjoy the flavor? At McDonalds, the big fries = 500 calories, small fries = 230 calories.
- Hold the mayo. Burger King has a great choice for us in the Whopper, Jr. at 260, hold the mayo. This saves us 9 grams of fat and 80 calories. With all burgers, hold the mayo needs to be a phrase we use over and over again to protect our hearts from fat overload.
- Bacon? If you absolutely need to have the bacon, think 1 or 2 slices--no more. Stick with the small burger patty at Wendy's on this. Remember no one, not even a major athlete in training needs that much saturated fat to support good health.
- Shake it Small. A 32 ounce shake can rock 1110 calories at McDonald's, a small 12 ounce still has 420 calories. Yes, you will be getting some calcium and protein in this, but lots of sugar comes with it. Shakes are a sometimes treat. Another possibility would be to get the kid's size shake which would deliver around 200 calories. Much nicer!
- Add some Nutrient Dense bargains. 100% fruit juice, fat-free milk, fresh fruit, tossed salads without all the extras (like cheese, croutons, bacon, creamy dressings, bacon.)
- Drink Calorie Free Beverages. Water, coffee, tea, diet sodas.
Don't be afraid to enjoy an occasional fast food run. Just remember to stay in control of what you choose, and to keep your heart and body first and foremost in your mind. Calories and grams of saturated (evil) fats add up so quickly at these restaurants. Take a look online at the menus and nutritional info before you go may be a great way to plan for good choices.
Remember, just be a kid again!
Small portion sizes create a healthy, happy heart and well portioned you.