Aug 7, 2013

Choosing Healthier Alternatives at Fast Food Restaurants

Making sure your kids eat healthy can be hard enough at home, but what if you have to grab them a quick bite to eat on the way to soccer practice or guitar lessons? Allison Morrow, R.D., L.D., a clinical dietitian at Children’s, recommends selecting healthier alternatives at fast food restaurants.

Your Best Bets for Fast Food


Burger Chains


Choose this....

  • Regular, single-patty hamburger
  • Grilled chicken sandwich, no mayonnaise
  • Apple Slices (no caramel dip) or a baked potato (no sour cream and bacon bits; choose chives and low-fat spread/margarine instead of butter)

Not this...

  • Double patties, cheese, bacon, special sauces and mayonnaise
  • Breaded, crispy chicken sandwiches
  • French Fries

Sandwich Chains


Choose this....

  • Six-inch sandwich or "skinny" bread
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Lean meat (turkey, roast beef or chicken breast) or veggies

Not this...

  • Foot-long or large sandwiches
  • White bread
  • Tuna salad (mayonnaise makes it fatty), bacon, meatballs or steak

Mexican Food Chains


Choose this...

  • Grilled chicken on a soft corn tortilla
  • Black beans
  • Salsa

Not this...

  • Crispy tacos
  • Refried beans
  • Cheese dip


Look up the nutritional information of the restaurants you visit most often on their websites. Print out the information and keep it in your car so you can make smart, healthy choices when you’re on the go,” says Morrow.

Which list of buzzwords signals healthier alternatives?

List A

  • Baked
  • Broiled
  • Grilled
  • Roasted

List B

  • Alfredo
  • Au gratin
  • Basted
  • Batter-dipped
  • Breaded
  • Creamy
  • Crispy
  • Deep-fried
  • In cream sauce
  • Pan-fried
  • Scalloped
  • Smothered
If you guessed that the buzzwords in List A signal healthier alternatives at fast food resaurants, YOU ARE CORRECT! The buzzwords in List B signal food that will add fat and calories to your meal.