Do Healthy Fast Food Choices Exist?

Whether fast food can be healthy remains a controversial question. People who care about their health and healthy fast food choices usually avoid eating in fast food restaurants. We have been told over and over that fast food is not the most nutritious option. It is high in calories, saturated fats and sodium and hence can damage our health. However it is possible to eat healthy at a fast food restaurant if some rules are observed.

What are the criteria for good healthy fast food choices? A meal eaten in a restaurant is considered to be good if it has the same healthful qualities as a home-cooked meal. First of all it must contain a moderate number of calories, so that a meal appeases hunger but doesn't leave you stuffed.
Second and more important, your healthy fast food choices must satisfy nutritional needs, so that you get enough fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. The advisable distribution of total number of calories is 50-55 percent carbohydrates, 25-30 percent fat, and 15-20 percent protein. We should differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fats. A healthy fat lowers cholesterol level, thus decreasing the risk of heart disease. The healthiest fats are canola and olive oils.

Healthy fats are essential part of any diet and thus are an important element of healthy fast food choices. Saturated fats and trans fats belong to unhealthy fats. Such animal foods as dairy products and meat are sources of saturated fats. Trans fats are usually vegetable oils.

It is also extremely important to distribute calories. When proportioned equally throughout the day, they are assimilated in a proper way. Consumption of the majority of calories at one meal can cause the body to store fat. The ideal way is to consume a larger amount of calories during breakfast and lunch. It will also be easier to keep calories in check if you eat a small meal. The portions at fast food restaurants are usually larger than normal and hence they contain larger amount of calories. You can maintain your weight and follow good eating habits even while eating in a fast food restaurant. If you want to lose fat and consume fewer calories, then you should stop eating when you start to feel full.

At present many fast food establishments started transforming themselves into restaurants that offer healthy fast food choices. Most healthy fast food restaurants have added new healthy options to their menus. There is also a tendency to post nutritional information on food offerings. Healthy fast food choices include grilled chicken or fish sandwich, single hamburger, whole wheat rolls, baked potato with vegetables instead of cheese, fat free salad dressing, low fat deli sandwiches, fruit and yogurt. Soft drinks are significant source of calories, that's why they must be substituted for low fat milk and water. The following items are not healthy fast food choices and they must be avoided: chicken nuggets, fried chicken, onion rings, fried fish and fried chicken sandwiches. Condiments often contain significant amount of calories and fat. Among these are ketchup, mayonnaise, tartar sauce and cheese sauce. Asking for the main dishes to be served without dressing, you will significantly reduce the total number of calories.
Salads containing fresh fruit and vegetables and low fat dressings are healthier than salads with cheeses, meats and heavy dressings. You can also separate the meal in order to have a clear picture what you are going to eat. If the portion is too large you can take some part of it home for a meal the next day. Sharing a meal with your partner you will automatically reduce the number of calories and the amount of food ingested.

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