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Fast food tips

Obesity - fast food; Weight loss - fast food; High blood pressure - fast food; Hypertension - fast food; Cholesterol - fast food; Hyperlipidemia - fast food

Many fast foods are high in calories, fat, salt, and sugar. Use these tips to guide you in making healthier choices when eating in a fast food restaurant.

 

Can you eat Fast Food?

Fast foods are quick and easy substitutes for home cooking. But fast foods are almost always high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt.

Some restaurants still use hydrogenated vegetable oils for frying. These oils contain trans fats. These fats increase your risk for heart disease. Some cities have banned or are trying to ban the use of these fats.

Now, many restaurants are preparing foods using other types of fat. Some offer low-calorie choices instead.

Even with these changes, it is hard to eat healthy when you eat out often. Many foods are still cooked with a lot of fat. Many restaurants do not offer any lower-fat foods. Large portions also make it easy to overeat. And few restaurants offer many fresh fruits and vegetables.

In general, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease must be very careful about eating fast food.

When you go to a Fast Food Restaurant

Knowing the amount of calories, fat, and salt in fast foods can help you eat healthier. Many restaurants now offer information about their food often called "nutrition facts." This information is much like the nutrition labels on the food that you buy. If it is not posted in the restaurant, ask an employee for a copy. This information is also available online.

In general, eat at places that offer salads, soups, and vegetables. In your salads, avoid high-fat items. Dressing, bacon bits, and shredded cheese all add fat and calories. Choose lettuce and assorted vegetables. Select low-fat or fat-free salad dressings, vinegar, or lemon juice. Ask for salad dressing on the side.

Healthier sandwiches include regular or junior size lean meats. Adding bacon, cheese, or mayo will increase the fat and calories. Ask for vegetables instead. Select whole-grain breads or bagels. Croissants and biscuits have a lot of fat.

If you want a hamburger, get a single meat patty without cheese and sauce. Ask for extra lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Limit how many French fries you eat. Ketchup has a lot of calories from sugar. Ask if you can get a side salad instead of fries.

Look for meats, chicken, and fish that are roasted, grilled, baked, or broiled. Avoid meats that are breaded or fried. If the dish you order comes with a heavy sauce, ask for it on the side and use just a small amount.

With pizza, get less cheese. Also pick low-fat toppings, such as vegetables. You can dab the pizza with a paper napkin to get rid of a lot of the fat from the cheese.

Eat low-fat desserts. A rich dessert can add fun to a well-balanced diet. But eat them only on special occasions.

Order smaller servings when you can. Split some fast-food items to reduce calories and fat. Ask for a "doggy bag." You can also leave the extra food on your plate.

Your food choices can teach your children how to eat healthy, too. Choosing a variety of healthy foods and limiting portion size are key to a healthy diet for anyone.

References

Eckel RH, Jakicic JM, Ard JD, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2960-2984. PMID: 24239922 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24239922/.

FasFoodNutrtion.org website. Fast food nutrition: restaurants. fastfoodnutrition.org/fast-food-restaurants. Accessed October 7, 2020.

Hensrud DD, Heimburger DC. Nutrition's interface with health and disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 202.

US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th ed. www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf. Updated December 2020. Accessed December 30, 2020.

Victor RG, Libby P. Systemic hypertension: management. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 47.

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    • Healthy fast food video

      Animation

    •  

      Healthy fast food video - Animation

      Americans are no strangers to fast food. We gobble down burgers, deep-fried foods, and sugary drinks at an alarming pace. Especially on a busy workday. Can you eat healthy when you grab a fast food meal and head back to the office? You can if you plan ahead and make the right choices. Hi, I'm Page Love, registered dietician. Today, we're here to talk about fast food choices that you may be making in your office place during a busy workday and how to make healthier choices. This is America's favorite past-time, a meal from a burger joint. The most common choice is a loaded, double-patty burger with cheese and mayo, and a large fries, totaling 1500 calories and 70 grams of fat. Instead, I propose a few lower fat alternatives. You can still go to the burger joint, but consider ordering a single patty, flame broiled burger where the fat can drip away from the burger and not remain with the meat. Load up on with all kinds of veggie toppings; tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles. Consider ketchup and mustard instead of mayo to lower the fat. So, we've lowered the fat and calorie content to 350 calories and 15 grams of fat, a quarter of the fat and calories of this previous fast food meal. Here are some other helpful hints when you're trying to enjoy your fast food meal. Try taking it outside of your office setting, maybe outside at a park, at a park bench like we have out here today. Take your time to enjoy your meal. Allow at least thirty minutes to eat your meal. You may want to bring a newspaper along to read a little bit in between bites. Unfortunately, the average American can scarf down a 2000 calorie fast food meal while they are sitting at their desk and an hour later not even realize that they've eaten. So, take some steps to slow it down and eat in a relaxed fashion. As you're eating your sandwich, put it down in between bites. Try to sip a nutritious beverage in between bites. This will help you notice your fullness, slow down, and enjoy your meal. If you're with a co-worker, try to talk to them in between your bites, and this will additionally help you slow down and enjoy the relaxing environment. All these things will help you to eat a healthy, nutritious, low fat fast food meal, enjoyed in a relaxed fashion. Bon appétit!

    • Fast food tips

      Fast food tips - illustration

      Although not impossible it is more of a challenge to eat healthy when going to a fast food place. In general, avoiding items that are deep fried is your best bet. Healthier choices include sandwiches that can be loaded with vegetables. Limit the extras such as cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise. Eat at places that offer a variety of salads, soups and vegetables to help maintain your best health.

      Fast food tips

      illustration

    • Fast food

      Fast food - illustration

      Fast foods are quick, reasonably priced, and readily available alternatives to home cooking. While convenient for a busy lifestyle, fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt and may contribute to undesired weight gain.

      Fast food

      illustration

    • Healthy fast food video

      Animation

    •  

      Healthy fast food video - Animation

      Americans are no strangers to fast food. We gobble down burgers, deep-fried foods, and sugary drinks at an alarming pace. Especially on a busy workday. Can you eat healthy when you grab a fast food meal and head back to the office? You can if you plan ahead and make the right choices. Hi, I'm Page Love, registered dietician. Today, we're here to talk about fast food choices that you may be making in your office place during a busy workday and how to make healthier choices. This is America's favorite past-time, a meal from a burger joint. The most common choice is a loaded, double-patty burger with cheese and mayo, and a large fries, totaling 1500 calories and 70 grams of fat. Instead, I propose a few lower fat alternatives. You can still go to the burger joint, but consider ordering a single patty, flame broiled burger where the fat can drip away from the burger and not remain with the meat. Load up on with all kinds of veggie toppings; tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles. Consider ketchup and mustard instead of mayo to lower the fat. So, we've lowered the fat and calorie content to 350 calories and 15 grams of fat, a quarter of the fat and calories of this previous fast food meal. Here are some other helpful hints when you're trying to enjoy your fast food meal. Try taking it outside of your office setting, maybe outside at a park, at a park bench like we have out here today. Take your time to enjoy your meal. Allow at least thirty minutes to eat your meal. You may want to bring a newspaper along to read a little bit in between bites. Unfortunately, the average American can scarf down a 2000 calorie fast food meal while they are sitting at their desk and an hour later not even realize that they've eaten. So, take some steps to slow it down and eat in a relaxed fashion. As you're eating your sandwich, put it down in between bites. Try to sip a nutritious beverage in between bites. This will help you notice your fullness, slow down, and enjoy your meal. If you're with a co-worker, try to talk to them in between your bites, and this will additionally help you slow down and enjoy the relaxing environment. All these things will help you to eat a healthy, nutritious, low fat fast food meal, enjoyed in a relaxed fashion. Bon appétit!

    • Fast food tips

      Fast food tips - illustration

      Although not impossible it is more of a challenge to eat healthy when going to a fast food place. In general, avoiding items that are deep fried is your best bet. Healthier choices include sandwiches that can be loaded with vegetables. Limit the extras such as cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise. Eat at places that offer a variety of salads, soups and vegetables to help maintain your best health.

      Fast food tips

      illustration

    • Fast food

      Fast food - illustration

      Fast foods are quick, reasonably priced, and readily available alternatives to home cooking. While convenient for a busy lifestyle, fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt and may contribute to undesired weight gain.

      Fast food

      illustration

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    Review Date: 7/13/2020

    Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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