Is there such a thing as healthy fast food? Well, maybe not. But there are times when it simply can’t be avoided.
Maybe you’re out with friends and they drag you inside a burger joint. Or perhaps you’re on vacation, tired from too much travel and you can’t (be bothered to 😉 ) find anything else. Whatever the reason, you’ll need to know how to make healthier choices at the fast food counter.
Why Is Fast Food Bad For You?
To help us make healthy choices we need to understand why fast food sucks in the first place. Here’s a list of the main problems:
- High in calories
- High in sodium (salt)
- High fat content
- High sugar content
- Lower quality, processed foods
- Trans-Fats, The Wrong Kind Of Fat
As you guys probably already know, I’m not necessarily against foods with a high fat content. But I am against foods that are high in the wrong kinds of fats. And fast food is one of the “bad guys” because it is fried in hydrogenated vegetable oils – and these are packed with artificial trans fats.
French fries are high in trans-fats. Incidentally, did you know that eating as little as 1 gram of artificial trans-fats per day can have a deadly impact on your health?
Mike Geary, author of best-selling The Truth About Six Pack Abs says: “as little as 1 gram of artificial trans fat per day can have serious degenerative internal effects in your body such as inflammation, clogging and hardening of the arteries, heart disease, various forms of cancer…not to mention packing on the ab flab.”
And that is just 1 gram per day! Makes you think doesn’t it? The next time you visit a fast food place just check out the nutritional labels to see how many grams your meal contains. It’ll make you think twice about ordering the same meal again.
You might also have noticed that I’m not anti high-calorie foods. Foods that contain natural, healthy fats are high in calories by their very nature. But what I am against is high calorie foods with little or no nutritional value (processed, fried, sugary, refined foods).
The most obvious example is soda. Sodas are full of high fructose corn syrup, a substance that causes you to pack on belly fat like nothing else. And don’t go thinking that diet soda is any better for you either! Check out my article on the dangers of diet soda for more info.
Foods To Avoid
So now you know what is causing you harm, let’s look at the fast foods to avoid:
- French fries
- Breaded/ battered chicken and fish
- Chicken nuggets
- Hash browns
- Potato wedges
- Onion rings
All of the above are fried in hydrogenated oils, packed full of artificial trans-fats. Even if your burger joint says their food is free from trans-fats, they’re still using refined vegetable cooking oils that negatively affects your health and waistline.
Avoid the soda fountain and its high fructose corn syrup. Here are some more to avoid:
- Diet soda
- Ice cream sundaes
- Cookies, Pies, Donuts etc
I’m singling out the above because they are high in refined sugar, but some of them are also full of hydrogenated fats and other empty calories. If you’re serious about getting in shape then you must avoid them at all costs.
Finally, a Few Extras:
Extra cheese (highly processed junk, containing a low percentage of “real cheese” as we know it)
Sauce – BBQ, Tommy K (basically a mixture of artificial flavor, sugar and salt – yuck!)
As our society has become more aware of the dangers that processed and fast foods can do to us, there has been an introduction of some healthier options. While many of them might not be the picture of organic and healthy foods we love, they are still the best option in an emergency.
Water (you don’t say!)
Iced or warm tea (unsweetened)
Herbal and fruit teas have added antioxidant power, but water is always good for hydration and creating a fat burning environment in your body.
Grilled chicken/ fish (not breaded or battered)
- Egg & ham on an English muffin
- Plain cheese burger
- Fruit and nuts
- Plain, unsweetened porridge
Grilled Chicken Salad – one of the healthiest fast food choices. Like I’ve already said, none of the above are particularly healthy. But if fast food is the only option then they are by far your healthiest options.
The main point to take away from this article is that the deep-fried food and the sodas are the most health-damaging and flab-enhancing items on every menu.
Once you learn a little bit about the damage these foods are doing to your body you’ll find burger joints much less appealing. I haven’t visited one in a little over a year now, and I’m more than happy about that fact!
If possible try to find a small deli that serves up fresh salads and sandwiches. Or head to a grocery store and hit the salad bar, or choose some fresh fruit. Remember that eating a balanced and healthy diet is as much a mindset as anything else. Once you’re in the right place mentally you’ll find avoiding fast food is easy!