By Kat Lively
Your work schedule is tight – meetings and conferences and phone calls all day long. If you are lucky to get a moment to eat, you probably only have time to wolf down a hamburger from the fast food joint by your office, or something from the employee lounge vending machine, assuming you were unable to pack a lunch. Assuming, of course, you have time to shop for groceries at all!
In our society of quick fixes and rushed time, however, we find that many people who eat on the run wind up on the express lane to obesity, despite the output of energy in a given day. We know it is a vicious cycle that must be broken, but is there a way to at least tap the brakes a bit without crashing?
If you keep up with the news, you may have noticed the more popular fast food chains have altered their menus in order to compete with the rise of “fast casual” restaurants – sit-down establishments that resembles more formal eateries, but deliver food with the same speed and efficiency of a fast food place. Walk into a newly renovated McDonald’s and likely you won’t see plastic cartoon characters inviting you to sit in molded plastic booths. You may find a more relaxed atmosphere, mature decor and even wireless access so you can take work to lunch. Next to the colorful kids’ meals on the menu, too, you will find more sophisticated fare, like salads and fruit and vegetable side options.
So if you choose to continue the fast track to lunch, what should you eat in order to maintain a good diet? For all the changes in appearance, burgers and fries are still burgers and fries, and the sodium and fat contents of both remain despite the packaging.
Coupled with bottled water instead of soda (always the best choice as far as drinks go), you can find some nutritional value when you eat on the run. Keep an even pace with just 30 minutes of exercise a day, and the next changes you see may appear in the way you look and feel.
Please note, though, that eating the meals on a regular basis will not guarantee weight loss. This guide is merely to offer the healthiest possible alternatives when patronizing these establishments. We hope everybody who is serious about losing weight will continue to research their nutrition needs and learn what foods are best for them to eat to sustain a healthy lifestyle.
To look at Ronald McDonald, it appears he has always looked slim, yet not everybody who includes McDonald’s food in a regular diet looks the same way. Just one Big Mac is 560 calories and has 30 grams of fat – on many eating regimens, that could represent a half a day of eating! For menu options that won’t take bust your belt or your wallet, you could try the following:
OPTION ONE: One regular hamburger, one side salad with light balsamic vinegarette dressing (used sparingly)
OPTION TWO: California Cobb Salad without chicken, with light balsamic vinegarette dressing (used sparingly)
OPTION THREE: Asian Salad no chicken with light sesame ginger dressing (used sparingly)
You can still “have it your way” at this landmark chain restaurant, and the good news is that your way doesn’t necessarily have to lead to weight gain. Next time you visit the King, try the alternatives to the hamburgers offered:
OPTION ONE: Grilled chicken sandwich and side salad, dressing used sparingly
OPTION TWO: Grilled chicken salad, dressing used sparingly
One of Wendy’s biggest selling points is their value menu, where you can find a number of items for about a dollar each. It may surprise you to know, too, a number of these items have been offered for many years, and have always been good alternatives to triple-patty hamburgers:
OPTION ONE: Large chili, side salad, dressing used sparingly
OPTION TWO: Baked Potato no butter or sour cream, large chili
OPTION THREE: Grilled chicken sandwich, side salad, dressing used sparingly
Oftentimes people are led to believe that if food contains certain ingredients or is prepared in a certain way (like in a tortilla instead of a carb-heavy bun), that it must be healthier. Not necessarily so. Wherever you go, be vigilant about what you eat, and if you head for this border you may want to consider the following for your next meal:
OPTION ONE: Chicken “Enchirito” no cheese, “Cinnamon Twists”
OPTION TWO: Bean burrito no cheese, “Cinnamon Twists”
OPTION THREE: Two chicken soft tacos, no cheese or avocado dressing
To calculate possible menus at other popular fast food restaurants, visit the corporate websites of your favorite restaurants. Many have online calculators handy to total the overall nutritional value of your food choices. From there you can make sound decisions about what you eat.