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Healthy Fast Food


Given busy work and school schedules, many of us want satisfying, quick meal options. But is it possible to get good nutrition at fast-food restaurants?

Current dietary guidelines for Americans list 3 goals for healthy eating overall:

  • Balance calories with physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood to get necessary nutrients
  • Eat less salt, sugar, saturated fats and transfats, and refined grains1

The good news is that many fast food restaurants today have expanded their menus to include healthy alternatives to burgers, fries, and soft drinks. For example, some fast food restaurants offer salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, grilled chicken nuggets, yogurt and fruit parfaits, plain water, and seltzer water. In addition, certain fast food restaurants have responded to current awareness about portions and now offer smaller portions to help consumers eat smaller meals.

Healthier options and smaller portions are a positive trend
toward helping many overweight and obese Americans
get the nutrition they need without unwanted fat and calories.

Tips for choosing healthy fast-food options:

  • Choose the smallest possible portions, eat slowly, and wait at least 20 minutes before eating more
    • IIt takes at least 20 minutes for you to feel satisfied after eating a meal or snack
  • Avoid deep-fried foods such as fried chicken, fried fish, and fries
  • Substitute salad or fruit for fries
  • Drink water, seltzer, or low-fat milk instead of sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages

McDonald's Healthy Options

  • Grilled chicken classic sandwich
    • 350 calories, 9 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, no transfat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 820 milligrams of sodium
  • Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait
    • 150 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, no transfat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium

Wendy's Healthy Options

  • Junior hamburger
    • 260 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, .5 grams of transfat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 630 milligrams of sodium
  • Garden side salad
    • 210 calories, 13 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, no transfat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium
  • Apple slices
    • 40 calories, no fat, no saturated fat, no transfat, no cholesterol, no sodium

Chick-Fil-A Healthy Options

  • Grilled nuggets, 4 pieces
    • 140 calories, 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, no transfat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 530 milligrams of sodium
  • Side salad with reduced-fat berry balsamic vinaigrette dressing
    • 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, no transfat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 460 milligrams of sodium



Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Updated July 26, 2014. Accessed August 1, 2014.