Fast food refers to food that can be prepared and served quickly. Fast food restaurants usually have a walk up counter and/or drive-thru window where you order and pick up your food without having to wait long. They’re popular because they serve filling foods that taste good and don’t cost a lot of money. However, the food is often made with cheaper ingredients such as high fat meat, refined grains, and added sugar and fats, instead of nutritious ingredients such as lean meats, whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Is fast food bad?
There is no such thing as a “bad” food, but there are some foods you should try not to have on a regular basis. Because fast food is high in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, it isn’t something you should eat often. Eating too much over a long period of time can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. People also often drink soda when they eat fast food which adds “empty” calories (calories that don’t make you feel full or provide nutrients) to the meal. It’s helpful to remember that with fast food, moderation is important.
Is some fast food healthier than others?
Many fast food chains have some healthy options to choose from. For example, some chains no longer serve foods with trans fat, and many have menu items that contain fruits and vegetables. If you’re having fast food more than once a week, try to make healthier choices.
Here are some tips:
Go light on the toppings: Added toppings usually mean more sodium or unhealthy fats.
To lighten up your meal without taking away flavor:
- Don’t overdo the salad dressing. Choose oil-based dressings such as Italian or balsamic vinaigrette instead of creamy salad dressings such as blue cheese and ranch which are high in saturated fat.
- Use (or ask for) mustard or ketchup instead of mayonnaise or “special sauce”.
- When ordering pizza, add veggies instead of meat, and get thin crust instead of deep dish.
- Top your sandwiches with veggies such as onions, lettuce, and tomatoes instead of bacon or extra cheese.
- Don’t add more salt to your meal. Salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease and fast food tends to be loaded with it.
Know how your food is made: The way a meal is made says a lot about how healthy it will be.
In general, follow these rules:
- Choose foods that are broiled, steamed, or grilled instead of fried. For example, pick a grilled chicken sandwich instead of fried chicken or chicken nuggets and steamed vegetables or fresh fruit instead of French fries.
- Choose soups that are not cream based. For example: If the name of the soup includes the word cream or chowder, such as “Creamy Tomato Soup”, choose something else such as a broth-based soup like minestrone or chicken noodle.
- Dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sodium.
- When ordering a sub or sandwich, select lean meats such as turkey or grilled chicken instead of items such as burgers, steak, or cheese sandwiches.
- Ask for sauces or dressings that come with meals to be served on the side and use just a small amount.