Research that fast food before putting in your mouth

Guest Post: Alison

I remember when I could “crash diet,” skip a meal or two and my jeans would fit nicely. (Please note: Go Fit Girl! does NOT recommend crash dieting of any sort.)  Now that I’m nearing my late 20s, I’ve had a baby, and I’m breastfeeding, dieting takes more effort.  My body needs consistent calories since I’m not the only dependent these days and indulging in a Quarter Pounder can’t be remedied by skipping the next meal.  I’d like to say that I never eat fast food but I have to admit when I don’t have time to grocery shop, somebody else needs to do the cooking.
Fortunately, we live in a semi-healthy conscious society and fast food companies have started listing ingredients and nutritional information on their websites. And I now have a tool that let’s me save time without compromising my healthy lifestyle.  Discovering that a 6-piece McNugget meal (nuggets + fries) has 665 calories and 37g of fat freaks me out. How many times have I eaten that!?

There are some, but not many, options for me at fast food restaurants.  There are very few meals that I can order and eat as is.  Most meals require special orders, stuff omitted, or even stuff added from home.  Salad dressing is the best example of this.

Carl’s Jr.’s Hawaiian Grilled Chicken Salad has 270 calories, 8g of fat and that doesn’t include the dressing. Can you believe that? That’s quite high for a bowl of greens, pineapple, cucumber and grilled chicken. It does have crispy wonton strips, which are easily omitted, but if you want to add the sesame Asian dressing that comes with this salad, be prepared to add an extra 120 calories and 8g of fat to your meal. I’m not a big fan of salad dressing as it is. Why eat a bunch of beautiful veggies, fruits and proteins just to cover it up with dressing and make it all taste the same? But if I had to add dressing to that salad I would use one I keep at home.

While I’m on the subject, I must say that salads can be misleading.  Most people assume that salads are healthy: a bowl of greens, veggies, seeds, proteins, etc. (without the dressing) has to be healthy, right? WRONG! Taco Bell’s Fiesta Taco Salad has 770 calories and 42g of fat. I won’t even mention any other nutrients, because there isn’t anything in there that can justify that much fat.  This is one of the many meals I won’t eat.  The only omitting I can do to make this little gem healthy is to skip it entirely.

Now for some good news:

BREAKFAST: Breakfast is an easy meal to prepare myself.  Hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, oatmeal. There are lots of quick, healthy, yummy options. If my husband is getting himself a Sausage McGriddle (420 calories and 22g of fat) I will eat McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (290 calories and 4.5g of fat). Not great, but it’s an occasional treat.  Can’t forget the coffee. Coffee itself only has a few calories and is fat free. I just add non- or low-fat milk from home. The fuu-fuu drinks are where you find the calories: small McCafe Mocha has 280 calories and 11g of fat; Starbucks Grande Caramel Macchiato has 280 calories and 7g of fat.

LUNCHEegee’s 5″ Turkey Sub has only 210 calories and 2g of fat.  Eegees is a sandwich shop in Tucson, Ariz., but there are plenty of sandwich shops in every town. Stick to whole grain breads, lots of veggies, omit cheese and fattening condiments.

DINNER: Wendy’s has an Apple Pecan Chicken Salad that I can alter and actually eat. I opt for the half-size. It’s plenty of food,  I could eat the full-size but I constantly remind myself of that fine line between satisfied and miserably full. I omit the blue cheese crumbles and the salad dressing and I’m left with about 250 calories and 10g of fat.  I could totally make this salad, an even better version myself, but this is for those times that seem to have fewer hours in the day.

DESSERT: There are very few options … McDonald’s Apple Dippers have 100 calories and 0.5g of fat, their small McCafe Smoothies have 210 calories and 0.5g of fat, which sure beats a milkshake with 580 calories and 14g of fat.

Remember, pairing a healthier meal with a soft drink sort of negates all this research. Diet soda doesn’t mean good for you.  I’m not a huge fan of fruit juice either. Fruit is loaded with awesome fiber, but when you squeeze out the juice and dump the goods you’re left with a lot of sugar. I am all for an occasional indulgence, but don’t let your drink be your treat. How often do you carry around your beverage hours after you eat lunch?  Don’t spend your afternoon sucking down flat soda.  That’s a great opportunity to enjoy the true “diet” beverage … good ol’ water.

My best advice, for myself and anyone eating healthy, is to cook at home. Remember simple foods make a great breakfast, pack your lunch the night before and keep pre-cooked dinners in the fridge/freezer.  If fast food is a must, do your research, your body deserves it.

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Thanks so much Alison for sharing this with us. Alison maintains a personal blog, which you can check out here. If anyone is interested in writing a guest post for Go Fit Girl! let me know via comments or send me an e-mail to: ann@gofitgirl.com.

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0 Comments

  1. Some of my low-cal fast-food favorites are:

    -Wendy’s small chili (200 cal, 6g fat) and baked potato with margarine or sour cream (320 calories, 4g fat). If you cut the potato in half and pour the chili on top, it’s a pretty tasty and filling meal.

    -Chick-Fil-A chargrilled chicken sandwich with large fruit cup (400 cal, 4g fat for the whole thing). Ask for “a whole wheat bun with no butter” to cut back on the calories. Unfortunately it costs more to get fruit than it does to get fries.

    -Starbucks: Egg white, spinach and feta wrap (280 cal, 10g fat). They also have fresh fruit cups, but if you get the wrap, a fruit cup and an iced tea, that runs about $10. A little pricey!

    -Dunkin Donuts: Veggie or Turkey Egg White Flatbread (280 calories each, 10g fat for the veggie, 8g fat for the turkey). Yummy stuff! (I also just found that they have a “DD Smart” menu online with 49 items that they deem healthy. Or low-cal… I can’t 100% tell. 🙂 )

    The kids’ menus are also helpful. Wendy’s Jr. Hamburger (which I think is like 79 cents) is just 280 calories and 8g fat. This always helps me when I’m craving a burger but can’t afford the thousand-calorie big burgers. And when I really, really need a frosty (it happens 🙂 ), I order the jr. frosty (not on most menus, but it exists). 150 cal and 4g fat.

    Can you tell I eat out a lot?

    • Jen – thank you for those suggestions! You’ve done your research too, awesome! Wendy’s chili is so good, I will add that to my “CAN eat” list on my cell!

  2. Thank you for noting that you don’t recommend crash dieting…it is one of the worst ways to lose weight! It confuses your metabolism and deprives your body of the good stuff! I’m so glad that I learned my lesson and realize that eating is necessary for dieting (after all, “diet” does mean a selection of food!).