Out with your friends? Going to a movie or shopping? Getting hungry? Is McDonalds so close you can smell the grease? Do you want it? Of course you do! Eating fast food when you’re out is a big part of American life, especially for a teen. It’s fast, easy, delicious, and everywhere. The temptation to dive into a massive burger dripping with cheese and grease is strong and, let’s face it, unavoidable. It’s important to be conscious of what you eat and to develop healthy eating habits, even if having fast food every once in a while won’t kill you. We don’t recommend you live off it, however.
Here are some easy tips you can use to make your meal healthier for those times you have to grab some fast food on the fly.
-Skip soda! Substitute iced tea, juice, water, or even low fat milk if available! Soda contains an enormous amount of sugar that causes unhealthy weight gain. Cutting soda out of your diet completely will help you drop pounds, and where better to start than when you’re getting fast food!
-Pay attention to how the food is prepared. Chicken is only healthier than beef if it’s broiled or grilled, and French fries are better for you baked, rather than fried.
-Ask for all your toppings on the side. You will be able to control how much or how little mayonnaise, ketchup, cheese, etc. you apply to your food. This is especially important for salads. While salads seem like the obvious choice for a healthy meal, they can often pack more calories than a burger after all the toppings have been added!
-Add on healthy sides. A lot of fast food establishments offer sides that aren’t soaked in grease and covered in salt, so take advantage of them! Maybe apple slices or a yogurt parfait will be just the thing to fill you up.
-Split up your meal. Most of the time, the portions you will be served while eating out are almost double what you should actually be eating. Poor portion control is a major contributor to obesity and bad health due to diet. Eat half and save the other half for later, or share with a buddy! If you split a meal, you’ll be saving money AND your waist line.
-Don’t write off fast food completely! If it’s something you really enjoy, feel free to indulge every once in a while. Cutting it out of your diet entirely could lead you to a fast food bender one day, which is much worse than getting a Big Mac every once in a while.
Not only will these tips help you stay healthier, but healthier diets will give you more long lasting energy! Eating apple slices and grilled chicken instead of fries and a burger will help you feel better and be active longer. That means more shopping, more kickball, more skating and more laughing with your friends!