5 healthy fast food replacements

5 healthy fast food replacements

Fast food is so easy.  It’s quick, relatively inexpensive and you don’t even have to get out of your car.

The biggest let-down with fast food is finding out how bad it is for you.  According to Medical News Today, many of America’s restaurant chains serve single meals with higher calorie, saturated fat and sodium counts than what is recommended for an entire day. This excess can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

So what’s a busy person on a budget to do?  Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian and New York Times best-selling author, suggested five healthy alternatives to fast food in a recent article published in the October issue of Health Magazine.

  1. Grocery store prepared foods

Most supermarkets have a section that offers prepared foods that are ready to go.  Vegetable salads, grilled salmon, grilled chicken, cut vegetables with hummus, nuts and fruits are all good options.

  1. Fast casual restaurants

An increasing number of casual restaurants are offering freshly prepared meals that typically have high quality ingredients. To pick the healthiest options at these establishments, Sass suggests looking at the nutritional information online to check out both the nutritional facts and the ingredients lists.

  1. Do it yourself

By making your own meal, you know the nutritional facts of all the ingredients.  Sass provides the following recipe for a quick on-the-go meal: a few handfuls of vegetables, a small scoop of quinoa and chickpeas, Italian herb seasoning, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

  1. Smooth it out

Smoothies can provide a ton of nutrition and help you stay full.  For the best balanced smoothie, make one at home with good carbs, lean protein and healthy fat.  Sass recommends making several smoothies at a time and then freezing them.  You can thaw them out in the fridge before you head out.

  1. Reheat healthy meals

Weekdays are so busy that it’s often difficult to find time to cook.  By making large healthy meals on the weekends, you can freeze meal leftovers in meal-size portions that you can reheat during the week.  Homemade soup, chili, stuffed peppers and stews are great options to reheat.

Lisa Leopoldo Babbo, registered dietician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, says it’s important to plan ahead in order to make good choices.  Babbo states, “Doing your homework ahead of time and knowing what your healthier options are is always a step towards healthier eating.”

Babbo adds, “There are many grocery stores that carry premade chicken breast which you can purchase for the week to add to your salads for lunch or dinner.  You can also try 0% fat Greek yogurt which is rich in protein with the added benefit of Calcium and probiotics which helps with digestion and boosts immunity.”

While most of the options from Sass and Babbo require you to get out of your car or plan ahead, the added effort will be worth it for your health in the long run.

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  1. Carol @ itsbaby.com October 17, 2013 at 9:06 am · Reply

    These are some great ideas. I specially love Whole Foods super market they have tons of dishes to selection from. Their prices are not low but you get what you pay for.

  2. I put extra smoothie in a small glass, cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. To thaw, better than the fridge is to nuke it for 10 seconds at a time. It usually takes four nukes and I move it around so all areas get hit. Guess I’m a smoothie perfectionist but it’s worth it!

  3. Julie Nakis

    I also love Whole Foods! Another one of my favorites is Protein Bar, which has a menu filled with healthy, high-protein foods.

  4. I have also found that Trader Joe’s has many of same products Whole Foods has at a better price. I don’t eat anything with nitrates and Trader Joe’s no nitrate turkey bacon is half the price of Whole Foods. They also have many healthy prepared meals. You can eat health and not drop your whole paycheck shopping.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.