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Mining the Fast Food Jungle

Jackie Burgmann -- So, when you're on the run and there's no other option but to eat at a fast food joint, but you're trying to stay healthy or stick to your weight loss plan, what do you do?

Everyone knows that fast food, for the most part, really isn't that good for you. It's usually very low in nutrients and very high in calories, trans fat and hydrogenated oils.

So, when you're on the run and there's no other option but to eat at a fast food joint, but you're trying to stay healthy or stick to your weight loss plan, what do you do?

Well, for starters most fast food places now have healthier options so you can stay on track better than you used to be able to.

For instance, that fish or chicken sandwich might seem like a healthier option than that burger, but wait a minute. Is that fish or chicken patty ground and deep fried? Or is it grilled? If it's a deep fried version then it more than likely has more calories and "bad fats" in it than the burger option. However, if the chicken or fish is grilled (and skinless) you'll be doing the right thing. Order up, it's a good option! Make it even healthier by removing the top half of the bun before eating it. Less refined flour in your meal equals less empty calories to sabotage your health or weight loss goals.

Or, if you can get a grilled chicken or fish wrap instead of a sandwich (try for a whole wheat wrap, instead of a white flour version) you'll probably wind up with a meal that's mostly veggies and some lean meat, and not much bread. Right on!

If you MUST have that beef burger, try to order one that's heavy on the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle, and light on the high calorie stuff like sauces, cheese and bacon. And again, remove the top half of the bun and you're eating healthier already. If you're in need of condiments, opt for mustard or even ketchup instead of mayonnaise or "special signature sauce". Mayo and special sauce are usually pretty high in calories and bad fats. You might even try ordering off the kiddie menu. Usually fast food places make their meals far too large for one adult anyway, so you might find that the kiddie sizes satisfy you without overstuffing you with calories.

With respect to side dishes, do your utmost to stay away from the deep fried items like french fries, onion rings and "chicken nuggets". Anything deep fried is surely wildly caloric and will only sabotage even the best efforts to keep it healthy or lower in calories.

How about a side salad? But watch out, those creamy dressings are also pretty high in calories and hydrogenated oils. Try something like vinaigrette instead or even olive oil & vinegar if it's available. As a matter of fact, when it comes to salads, you can usually find some kind of "salad with lean, grilled meat and nuts" option as an entrée at the fast food restaurants these days. So, why not skip the burger, wrap or sandwich completely and have one of these yummy and more nutritious salads instead?

And by all means stay away from drinks like milkshakes and soda pop. They are extremely caloric, and when it comes to soda pop, nothing but empty calories completely devoid of any nutrition whatsoever. If you need a drink, water will always be your best choice, but coffee and tea are also better options than milkshakes or soda pop. Just don't add huge amounts of sugar or creamer or you're just putting back in the calories you just took out by choosing these options.

So, next time you're stuck eating at a fast food restaurant because there just is no other choice (or majority rules with your friends or colleagues), stick with these healthier options so you aren't forced to sabotage your health or weight loss goals.

Lots of great "good food" recipes can be found in the Anabolic Cooking Cookbook by Dave Ruel. Check out my interview with Dave to learn what is worth eating and how to make delicious recipes using whole, natural foods.

Jackie Burgmann is a registered weight trainer and registered personal rrainer who also runs a popular fitness-oriented video blog using the pseudonym Girlwithnoname at her blog Girlwithnoname -- Fitness At Home where she provides inspiration, motivation and online fitness coaching.

© 2010 Jackie Burgmann

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