My top 4 tips for eating healthier Fast Food

I once had a firefighter ask “so you don’t eat any fast food, do you?” Of course I do! I’m just a regular gal that needs to get food on the run sometimes, just like everybody else (and I’m definitely not a health nut!)

I do, however, make an effort to order something semi-healthy when I run through the drive-through so I can feel good about what I’ve eaten. So today I’m going to share with you my top 4 tips for eating healthier when you need to eat fast food. These can also be used when eating out at a brewery/restaurant that serves “bar food.”

french-fries Pixabay

Tip #1: Don’t think of the fries as a “side” because they typically have as many or more calories in them as your entrée. For example, a McDonald’s cheeseburger has 300 calories while a large fry has 510 calories (and that’s without ketchup)! So I choose a side salad or, if I really have to have fries, I order a small (or sometimes I steal a few from my husband….I’m guessing some of you ladies are laughing and some of you guys are rolling your eyes).

Tip #2: Although people often think it is healthier to order a chicken burger rather than beef, it’s not usually any healthier if the chicken is breaded.  Your best choice is a grilled chicken sandwich. The difference between any of McDonald’s crispy/breaded chicken sandwiches and their grilled counterparts is about 160 calories and 13 grams of fat.

Tip #3: Beware of dressings, condiments and sauces. If you could take it or leave it, leave it! We end up eating these sneaky little things without any regard for how many calories they add to our food. Mayonnaise can add hundreds of calories to a burger – almost as many as an entire cheeseburger! Ketchup has a lot of calories too.

hamburger Pixabay

Many fast food chains offer salads now. Although this is a healthier choice (because they have vegetables in them) calorie-wise it may not be much better than eating a burger and that is partly because of the salad dressings. McDonald’s Crispy Chicken salads have as many calories as a Big Mac and 100-150 of those calories come from the dressing.

Tip #4: I know it’s hard but skip the soda – a large has about as many calories as a small cheeseburger! This goes for diet soda too – studies consistently show that people do not successfully lose weight when they switch to diet even though they are drinking fewer calories (there are a variety of explanations that I won’t discuss here). If you don’t want water your best choice would be unsweetened iced tea.

Do you have any favorite fast food go-to’s that don’t sabotage your waistline? Let us know in the comments below.

Next week I’ll get more specific and tell you my healthy picks at 10 popular fast food chains.

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By | 2018-06-01T07:07:13+00:00 June 25th, 2014|Uncategorized|2 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Karlie Moore has a PhD in Exercise Science and Nutrition and specializes in firefighter health. She has conducted fitness testing on hundreds of firefighters and has created the most comprehensive online wellness program for fire departments called the FitCulture program. Dr. Moore is also married to a firefighter and so understands their lifestyle and the health challenges associated with it.


  1. Greg Friese June 26, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Great tips.

    Jimmy Johns or Subway. Veggies and cheese. No meat.

  2. Jack July 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Mcwrap grilled with no sauce and a large Splenda tea. Don’t know how much better it is for you but it’s tasty and seems like the healthier choice vs a Big Mac meal!

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