8 Ways to Do Less Damage at the Drive-Thru

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Americans are eating less fast food on a daily basis. That’s the good news. The bad news is that eight in 10 Americans still report eating at fast-food restaurants at least monthly, with almost half saying they eat fast food on a weekly basis.

If you’re in a rush and fast food is your only choice, steer clear of choices high in calories and fat. Here’s how:

  • Look for the ‘light’ menu. Most fast-food restaurants offer ‘light’ menus and low-fat selections. If the nutritional information isn’t on the menu, ask your server about healthy choices. Or check out their website and look up the nutritional content online.
  • Stick to smaller sizes. Smaller is always going to be better when it comes to fast food. Select the smallest size of sandwiches, burgers, and sides. Skip the shame and order from the kid’s menu.
  • Cut back on condiments. A single tablespoon of regular mayonnaise contains about 9 grams of fat and 100 calories. Ketchup contains added sugar. Have your burger plain or use mustard to add flavor.
  • Go for grilled. While fish and chicken entrees sound nutritionally safe, the fried versions of either food put them in the same class as burgers. Order your fish or chicken sandwiches grilled or baked.
  • Forget the fries. If your meal doesn’t seem complete without fries, choose the smallest size (which can be 400 calories less than a large serving).
  • Dip your dressing. If you order a salad, keep your salad dressing on the side. Dip your fork in it before you scoop up the greens. You’ll still get the taste but eat fewer calories. Choose low-fat or fat-free dressings. Avoid adding extra cheese, croutons, and bacon to your salad.
  • Skip the soda. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. An average large soda packs around 300 calories. Order water, diet soda or unsweetened tea.
  • Share servings. Portion sizes at fast-food restaurants have increased over the past 20 years and continue to get larger. Share your meal with a co-worker, friend or family member.