Fast food often gets a bad rep for being high in fat, calories and sodium. Some of the obvious appeal of eating fast food includes convenience and cost, but many fast-food chains are also altering their menus to appeal to a more health-conscious consumer. Although most foods are OK to eat as an occasional treat, some fast-food menu options are better choices than others.
Nutrition Value Availability
A positive aspect of fast-food chains compared to some other more formal eateries is the availability of nutritional information. It's typically posted on menu boards as well as available on in-store flyers. Knowing the nutrition of the foods you're about to order can help you make more informed and healthier choices.
Changes in Cooking Techniques
Another positive change in the fast-food world is the availability of foods prepared using healthier cooking methods. Some changes are only a small step in the right direction, such as using vegetable oil instead of lard to fry foods, while other changes result in a significantly healthier food such as grilled chicken breast or broiled fish rather than just deep-fried choices.
In addition to foods prepared in ways to lower the fat, healthier items are often available on fast food menus. Look for fresh salads, low-fat yogurt, fruit cups and wheat buns to replace some of the higher fat and lower fiber menu options. However, keep in mind that these healthy choices have the ability to take a wrong turn when paired with unhealthy selections, such as having fried chicken on your whole-wheat bun, high-fat salad dressing on your salad, or high-sugar candies mixed into your yogurt. Stick with the food in its most natural form to get the greatest nutritional benefit from it.
Fast food often seems like a quick solution for families with small children and working parents, but trying to instill healthy eating habits in young lives can be a challenge at fast food chains. The good news is that healthier, kid-friendly alternatives are becoming more available. For example, low-fat milk is an option in place of sugary sodas. You can also opt for apple slices instead of high-fat French fries in many cases. The positives of fast-food restaurants can go beyond the cost and convenience factors with a little effort in choosing the healthier options on the menu.