According to author Victoria Abreo, in her story entitled “God, the Devil and Fast Food,” here’s how we became addicted to fast food, sugar-filled concoctions and deep fried trans-fatty nightmares.
God populated the Earth with broccoli and cauliflower and spinach, green and yellow and red vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.
Then Satan created McDonald’s, Ben and Jerry’s and Krispy Kreme.
And Satan said, “You want chocolate with that?”
I, like everyone else, spent a lot of time watching football games over the holidays. While doing so, I could not help but catch the fast food commercials promoting “big box” deals. Why for only $5 you can get a cheeseburger, chili dog, fries, apple turnover and a drink at a whopping 1,560 calories and 522 grams of fat! Even if you avoid the big box deals and super sizing, you can get into trouble whenever you grab fast food.
I don’t know how many friends and neighbors come up to me at the gym, church or at a soccer game and lament that they work out like a maniac all the time and still cannot manage their weight. My standard questions for them include: Do you know what you are eating? Do you know portion sizes? How often are you eating?” Most people don’t have a clue about the “what, when and how much” of what they eat. Combine that with the need to grab food on the run and the smart choices go out the window. That is why learning how to choose wisely at fast food establishments is so important.
While fast food restaurants have made an effort to offer healthier fare, you still need to be aware. Just because something looks healthy on the surface does not mean it is the best choice. Even the most educated consumer can get snowed. I totally fell in love with what I thought was a “healthy” chicken salad sandwich at a local eatery. After eating it on several occasions, I decided to validate my “healthy choice” and brought up the restaurant’s website to check out the nutritional content. Boy, was I shocked. On the surface, whole grain bread, chicken salad made from mayo (what I thought was the fat-free variety), pecans, grapes and apples sounded like a healthy selection. Guess again. For the sandwich alone, it was a whopping 770 calories and 38 grams of fat.
While it is much better to prepare meals at home or pack a lunch or snack, there are still ways to make it through the drive-thru window in good shape. Here are some tips:
— Don’t give up nutrition to save time: Make a balanced diet a priority even when eating on the run. The “grab whatever I can” mentality can sabotage your good health.
— Take a healthy snack with you during the day: Fruits, nuts, and veggies as well as bagels with peanut butter or low-fat cheese and crackers are great take-along goodies. The healthy snacks can curb your appetite significantly.
— Eat every four to five hours: Skipping meals and being really hungry when you hit the drive-thru can make you grab the burger combo instead of the salad every time. Also skipping meals slows down your metabolism significantly.
— Use the Internet or ask for a nutritional pamphlet from your favorite place: All fast food establishments have nutrition information available online and at their stores. Be educated as to calorie and fat content of items and make good selections. Forgo the fries for a side salad, a small cup of chili or soup and check out the salads. If Mexican is more your style, choose items with beans, chicken and just a little cheese. Be sure to skip the salad with the edible bowls to keep the calories and fat in check.
— Order smaller portions: If you just have to have a burger, order a kid’s meal. You can opt for a diet drink, small fries and a neat toy and not blow your calories in a single meal.
While it is much better to prepare your own meals, sometimes grabbing fast food is the only choice. Be an educated consumer by surfing the web. Every company has a web link with nutrition information. Once you are familiar with the good choices, eating fast food can be a lot less stressful. And whatever you do, stay away from the “Big Boxes!”
— Kathy Hansen has more than 20 years experience in the health and fitness field. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.