"Health is a large word. It embraces not the body only, but the mind and spirit as well;...
and not today's pain or pleasure alone, but the whole being and outlook of a man."
~James H. West

Lisa's Blog

Are there any healthy take away options?

Lisa Cutforth - Thursday, October 21, 2010

What are the healthy fast food options available out there at the generic chains?

Many of my clients appeal to me to give them some options for a "healthier" alternative at their favourite fast food joint or take away.  The reality is they express:  "Sometimes I am just in such a hurry or I just can't be bothered to cook and those flashing lights and clever marketing just call out to me, I am helpless!"  Getting a little image of the poor little moth that gets drawn in by the brightest light bulb, I felt some compassion rise up.  Sometimes it is hard to deny your nature and resist the urge for what may appear to be the most logical efficient solution, especially when you accompany those instincts and drives with the subliminal brainwashing of emotional cues that have you believing that this will make you happy and you just can't beat the feeling.

So, what's on the menu?  Well I challenged myself to pop into Red Rooster, McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, Subway and Big Dad's Pies.

Some I was pleasantly surprised, so here is what I would do:

  1. Hey, if they do salads, that is the obvious choice.
  2. Choose grilled over fried and/or crumbed meat (chicken/fish/beef).  Trust me you just don't want your body to have to deal with the A.G.E.'s that tip the scale of the crumbed and deep fried and often uber processed meats. Not to mention trans fats. Both of these are SERIOUS ANTI-NUTRIENTS, so not only is your body not getting much real nutrition, it is also having to deal with a shot of heavy compounds it has to now process and deal with. 
  3. Hold the sauce, it scares me what they put in sauces these days: mayonnaise is not made from good old egg and oil in fast food joints, so rather leave it out.  Hold the cheese.  It is super processed and just plain nasty very often, with some of the above mentioned anti-nutrients lurking, I would urge you to resist the temptation of a cheese burger!
  4. Choose a wrap over a bun/burger and fries.
  5. They are very clever at making you think something is healthy when it may not be, you are going to have to outsmart them.  Don't just assume a wrap or something with a heart foundation tick is healthy.  It may be a healthier choice out of what's available on their menu but certainly if it is from a fast food outlet, moderation is the order of the day.
  6. Go vegetarian: when pushed and I have no other choice for example there isn't a salad on the menu and there isn't a vegetarian option, I have ordered a burger without the patty, which ends up being a bit like a salad roll:  beetroot, tomato, onion, gherkin and lettuce.  Which is not too bad, considering.  And, often the most unhealthy culprits on the menu are the processed meats and cheeses.  So for example if I was ordering a pizza I would get a thin crust vegetarian with chilli
  7. Try and get to the healthier fast food places more often where you know they have some better health options on the menu: for example, Sumo Salad, Subway.
Bon Appetit!
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