Whether we realize it or not, fast food dining has become an important part of most of our lives. The convenience of fast food dining establishments can be a big help to single moms taking care of their families. What often goes unnoticed is the health implications that go along with regularly eating out. The food selections in most fast food establishments are designed for the convenience of the restaurant. Much of the food is often high in fats and sugars while lower in nutritional value than a comparable meal at home. In order to increase shelf-life, many additives and preservative also are packed into most every morsel.
Not only are these factors bad for our overall health, eating out can wreak havoc on everyone’s physical appearance. The calorie-packed foods found in fast food restaurants are also provided in super-sized portions. While regularly dining out is a major challenge when trying to eat healthier and maintain a diet plan for weight loss, it is not impossible. Many fast food chains are becoming more conscious of the nutritional value of the items on their menus. An increasing number of restaurants are making moves to include healthier choices.
By no means, will they cease to serve the calorie-laden products that have and continue to bring them millions of dollars a year. It is up to consumers to make better choices for ourselves and our families. Let’s take a look at some simple substitutions that we can make in order to keep our convenient lifestyle and our trim waistlines.
Deep Six the Deep Fried
Anything that is found swimming in oil prior to placement on your plate, is off the list. This includes typically healthy fish and chicken. Preparing these items in oil adds hundreds of additional calorie and artery clogging cholesterol. Don’t forget that this also includes side items such as French fries, potato chips and onion rings. Remember this also applies to deep fried desserts like apple fritters, apple pies, and donuts. A simple substitution would be baked or grilled chicken for an entrée and a broth-based soup for your side item.
Slash the Starch
Starch is one ingredient that can sneak in under the wire in any entrée, side or dessert. Even breaded meats such as fried chicken and fish patties pack on the starch to an already high calorie meal. Side items such as mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, red beans and rice along with breaded okra can add hundreds of extra calories to your tally. A simple substitution for your sides could be green beans, steamed broccoli or a side salad. Any of these can help you avoid the dreaded starch monster.
Cut the Carbonated Beverages
Sodas, juices, sweet teas and the like all pack in hundreds of calories in the form of sugar. This is another often overlooked source of starch and hidden calories. Even many energy drinks contain obscene amounts of sugars so pay close attention to your beverages. A simple substitution would be cool, crisp, clean water. A close second is unsweetened tea. A last resort may be diet sodas with little to no calories.
It is very difficult go “cold turkey” on fast foods. One tip that has been helpful to many is to implement small changes over time. For instance, for the first two weeks of your diet plan for weight loss, substitute water or another healthier beverage with all of your meals. Once you are accustomed to this change, move on to switching up your side items. Next move on to your entrée and before you know it, you’ll be looking at visiting healthier restaurants all together.