How fast food has gotten worse for you

How fast food has gotten worse for you

Your options for a quick meal have been growing over the years, but fast food offerings have been getting worse for you.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that offerings from 10 popular fast-food restaurants got bigger and more packed with calories from 1986 to 2006. There’s more sodium now, too.

And the number of menu items at the restaurants grew by 226%, according to the study.

That dizzying number of choices could make it more difficult to pick healthy options at a fast food restaurant. But Leah Woock, a registered dietitian at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, has some ideas.

For starters, Woock suggests you shouldn’t upgrade your meal or make it a combo.

“For example, ordering the entrée but choosing a small size French fry over the large size and a non-caloric beverage cuts about 570 calories (which is 29% of your daily caloric intake based on a 2,000 calorie diet),” Woock says. “Some other tips to implement are choosing grilled or baked items, ordering salad dressing on the side and reducing the amount of added high-fat toppings.”

That means asking for one slice of cheese instead of two, or avoiding extras such as mayonnaise, bacon and tartar sauce.

“Use the calorie count on the menu board to make better choices, and don’t just order your meal in auto-pilot mode,” Woock says. “By making these modifications, you can begin to reduce excess calories and fat that contribute to obesity.”

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  1. Now that combos at places like McDonald’s are no longer cheaper than the individual items, substituting smaller portions also saves you money. Some restaurants actually charge extra for a combo, now, saying they charge for ‘convenience’.

About the Author

Mike Riopell
Mike Riopell

Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.