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Fast Food Choices by Cheryl Koch, M.S., R.D.

This weekend, as we rushed around on our Saturday morning errands, my family and I made a rare stop at a fast food restaurant. While we were there, I was struck by how much fast food has changed. Once limited to high-fat fried foods, with even more calories hidden in fatty dressings and sweet treats, the menus in these restaurants have a whole new look.

The fast food industry is finally recognizing that consumers want choices that include healthy options, even if they select them only occasionally.

The most interesting part of our outing was the fact that two of us ate the exact same menu item -- but one was heavier in fat and calories because of the choices we made as we ordered.

We both selected a chicken sandwich. One was grilled and topped with honey mustard, lettuce, tomato, and onion. The other was fried and topped with mayonnaise and cheese. This just shows that even at the fast food counter, we can make smart choices to help keep the fat and calories down!

Next time you go out to "have it your way," consider the following tips to help you lower the fat and calories in your fast food meal:

-Select extra lettuce and tomatoes instead of bacon, mayonnaise, and "special sauces."

-Choose fresh vegetables and a low-fat dip instead of creamy salads, such as potato and macaroni salad.

-Opt for low-fat milk, diet soda, or water instead of high-fat shakes and regular soda.

-Consider a thin-crust pizza topped with vegetables instead of a thick-crust pizza with meats and extra cheese.
-Order a baked potato plain or with a low-fat topping instead of french fries or chips.

-Go with extra lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa instead of guacamole and sour cream.

-Sprinkles and fruit toppings are a better choice than caramel or hot fudge on a sundae.

-Look for low-fat yogurt and sorbet instead of ice cream.


Cheryl Koch, a registered dietitian and director of the food and clinical nutrition programs at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Posted on 07 Dec 2006 by coachgianni
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