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How to make healthier fast food choices

How to make healthier fast food choices

Although we are aware that fast food is not good for our health, sometimes circumstances can leave us with no other choice but to resort to it. Fast food is affordable, convenient, and in our fast-paced society, it can be our only option.

However, according to registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, there are certain fast food options that are better for us than others. Zumpano notes that although fast food cannot be considered healthy, there are now more varieties of fast food that offer healthier options.

To help you make better choices the next time you have to opt for fast food, both dietitians Zumpano and Kate Patton uncovered the secrets to ordering healthy fast food.

It is possible to eat healthy fast food

According to Kate Patton information regarding calories and nutrients is readily accessible online or near the checkout counter. Planning your order in advance or determining how you’ll order can help improve your attitude towards fast food, and it doesn’t have to ruin your entire day.

While it may be necessary to make some specific requests to find a well-balanced meal at a fast food joint, don’t fret. You won’t be the first person to make adjustments to your order. Feel free to ask for additional vegetables, substitutions, or omissions.

When placing your fast food order, remember these three useful tips: prioritize lean protein, vegetables, and fiber, steer clear of super-sized or jumbo meals, and aim to keep your meal within 500 calories or less.


Consuming this fast food classic may result in a high calorie intake, and the excessive grease may cause digestive discomfort. However, if you have a craving for a burger, there are ways to regulate your calorie intake.

Opt for the leanest type of burger available or inquire about vegetarian or turkey burger options.

Choose a single burger instead of a double or triple patty option. Or consider ordering a junior or kid’s size.

Load up your burger with as many vegetables as possible. If on the menu, then select baby spinach instead of iceberg lettuce. Request a lettuce wrap instead of a bun or forgo the bun altogether. And surely avoid bacon.


Chicken sandwiches and chicken nuggets are a healthier protein option when compared to traditional meat burgers as they contain a higher nutrient content.

When placing your order, choose grilled chicken over the fried (‘crispy’) option. To prevent adding extra calories, avoid sauces such as mayo and order without cheese. And consider ordering without a bun and using mustard as a dipping sauce for the chicken.


If you’re in the mood for fast food with seafood, then be cautious. Despite fish being a healthy protein source, many fast food seafood options are high in calories and fat.

Steer clear of fried or breaded fish menu items. Tuna salad is typically loaded with mayonnaise and can exceed the recommended daily fat intake. If possible, request a list of ingredients before ordering.


Although it may not be your first choice, fast food restaurants now offer salads on their menu. However, some of the toppings on these salads can reduce their health benefits.

To ensure a healthy fast food salad, consider opting for a lean protein source such as grilled chicken, beans, or eggs. Including a variety of food groups in your salad, such as fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Requesting spinach or other dark leafy greens in place of iceberg lettuce helps too. Asking for dressing on the side or bringing your own healthier alternative. And it is a useful tip to reduce the amount of dressing used, by dipping your fork in the dressing before taking a bite.

Burritos and tacos

For these popular fast-food meals, it’s recommended to opt for a bowl instead of a tortilla. Unless you’re an athlete who requires the carbs, it’s best to skip the tortilla altogether. Here are some tips for building a healthy bowl.

To make a healthy and satisfying meal, begin with a bed of lettuce and pile on the veggies, such as peppers, onions, and salsa. Brown rice can be added to the mix as well.

For protein, opt for lean meat, pinto beans, or black beans, and avoid ordering double meat as the body can only absorb so much protein at once. If you opt for a larger size, consider splitting it in half and save the other half for later.

Skip or ask for a small amount of sour cream and cheese, or bring your own Greek yogurt as a healthier topping option. Avocado is another great addition, providing healthy fats.


To make healthier side choices, it’s best to steer clear of fried options like French fries which can be high in saturated fat due to being overly processed and deep-fried. Instead, opt for side salads, baked potatoes, apple slices, fruit cups, or yogurt.

However, if you really want fries, go for the smallest size available.


To make healthier beverage choices at fast food restaurants, consider to choose unsweetened tea or water instead of soda. Because soda is not good for our health. This includes diet soda that contains artificial sweeteners that should be avoided. And avoid shakes, which can contain a high number of calories, sometimes even up to 800.


Be cautious of using too much condiments, dips, and seasoning as they can add unnecessary sugar and sodium to a healthy meal. If possible, measure out the amount you need. You can also bring your own homemade or healthier options instead.

Consider using mustard, guacamole, salsa, vinegar, hummus, and hot sauce to add flavor without adding excess calories. It’s best to avoid or limit mayonnaise and creamy sauces.


Indulging in a sweet treat once in a while is okay. And when visiting an ice cream shop with kids, it’s hard to resist. However, there are healthier options to consider. Like choosing a small cone or a kid’s cup to keep portions in check. Frozen yogurt or no-sugar-added options are better choices. And always avoid candy toppings which add extra sugar and calories.

How to make healthier fast food choices conclusion

According to a Cleveland Clinic survey, almost half of Americans consume fast food every week. However, it’s important not to go overboard even when making healthier choices at fast food restaurants. Zumpano therefore advises limiting your fast food intake to no more than once a week.

Zumpano points out that fast food is usually made from processed and packaged ingredients, resulting in high sodium content and a lack of vitamins and minerals. While an occasional indulgence in fast food is acceptable, it’s crucial to remember that there are healthy alternatives available, even at fast food drive-thrus, which can help you maintain your daily routine without getting derailed.