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Who doesn’t enjoy going to fast food restaurants? Besides the fact that they’re everywhere, they know how to entice us with brightly colored advertisements and mouth-watering food descriptions. They’ve got us right where they want us, especially once you enter through their doors, and that tantalizing smell hits your nostrils.
This is a marketing tactic also done on purpose with the help of companies like ScentAir that duplicate the smell of delicious food to intensify the real thing. And once inside, you find yourself picking foods you didn’t plan on getting in the first place, and the wafting aroma makes everything taste better as well so that they make sure you never forget how delicious that double cheeseburger with large fries and a soda was.
Instead, you forget how damaging to your health all that salt, sugar and addicting ingredients was to your health.
If this happens to you, don’t fear – you’re not alone. Instead of falling victim to their clever marketing gimmicks, follow these 5 tips to enjoy fast food without ruining your health.
1. Keep your portions small. From fries to drinks, most of us order the “combo” meal instead of going for the small sizes. It could be a matter of getting the most bang for your buck, but when that bang is bad for your health, and then it’s not worth it. You can even choose child’s-sized hamburger which is only 250 calories, compared to a large hamburger which can reach 800 calories. Alongside that, choose the small fries, or better yet, ask if they offer steamed vegetables or other healthy alternatives to fries.
2. Watch what you drink. Soft drinks and milkshakes carry a ton of calories. An average soda is about 300 calories, while the calories in milkshakes range from 500 to an incredible 900 calories per 24-ounce drink – that’s nearly half the amount of calories that an average woman should consume in one day. Smoothies are no different, either. Drinks like these are also known for their high sugar content – one of the main factors behind an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Instead, you can drink ice tea or coffee, juices, or just plain water.
3. Go green. Pick dishes that are on the greener side to make sure you’re getting vegetables. Also, choose vinaigrettes over creamy salad dressings since the latter tends to be on the fattier side. For example, Caesar salad dressing is 260 calories and 29 grams of fat, while vinaigrettes have an average of about 60 calories and a mere 3.5 grams of fat. It’s also important to reduce the amount of toppings on your salad, like cheese or croutons, which can also pack in the calories and fat.
4. Opt for healthier side dishes. You know you can’t have a good meal without a sturdy, accompanying side dish to tie in the whole meal. Small fries, as mentioned above, can save you over 200 calories alone. However, there are other choices to choose from instead of salty, greasy fries. Most fast food restaurants offer healthier side dishes, but it’s up to you to ask what they are. You can go for a simple green salad with dressing on the side, baked potato, or corn on the cob. There are also whole fruits, fruit salad or yogurt options.
5. Choose grilled over fried. Even if that salad you ordered comes with fried or crispy chicken, then you’re eating about 290 calories and 15 grams of fat into your meal. Compare that with grilled chicken salad, which are only 210 calories and only 7 grams of fat.