When Eating Fast Food
(American Heart Association) May, 2008
Return to menu
Fast food can be heart-healthy food if you know what to look for and order, and have the will power to follow through. With a little bit of effort, you can ensure that the fast-food meals you choose fall within a healthy dietary pattern. Follow these fat-sensible tips when making your fast-food choices:
  • Find out the nutritional content of fast-food items by visiting the chain's Website to help identify the healthiest choices. Some restaurants post this information near the counter or provide it in pamphlet form.
  • Pass on "value-size" servings that enable you to choose greater portions of food for a slightly greater price. "Super-sizing" a food item inevitably increases the amount of fat, added sugars, sodium and calories you consume.
  • Skip the sides, which are usually deep-fried. For a healthier side dish, order a side salad or fruit cup.
  • Choose a baked potato over French fries, but have it with vegetables or fat-free or low-fat sour cream or margarine instead of butter, full-fat sour cream or cheese.
  • Choose grilled chicken sandwiches often ˇV they're a much healthier option than breaded, fried-chicken sandwiches and usually significantly leaner than the meats used in most burgers.
  • Avoid ordering sandwiches with double meat. A single serving of meat is 2ˇV3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) and a single meat patty is usually well over a single serving.
  • Avoid adding bacon to sandwiches, because itˇ¦s high in fat and calories and has very few nutrients. Order pickles, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard and ketchup instead to add flavor without fat.
  • Steer clear of fried fish sandwiches. Choose fish sandwiches where the fish is baked, broiled or grilled.
  • Try asking for a wheat or whole-grain bun, as some places do offer them.
  • Hold the mayonnaise and other calorie-laden sandwich sauces (e.g., ˇ§special sauceˇ¨).
  • Drink water, diet soda or skim or low-fat milk. Regular sodas are loaded with sugars and calories.