Healthy (Er) Fast Food

Let's be honest — eating fast food is sometimes a must. If you have to eat it, at least choose the healthiest of the unhealthiest type of food!

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As much as we may try and be "supermom" by packing our kids a healthy lunch every day and cooking homemade dinners each night, this just isn't always a reality. Life gets in the way. You get off work late from an already stressful and exhausting day, a friend calls needing to speak with you urgently or you just simply don't feel like cooking dinner. Guess what? That's OK! Feeding your kids fast food every once in a while isn't going to hurt them — and, in fact, they'll probably love you more for it. You can make yourself feel a little better though by choosing one of these "healthy" fast food restaurants!

1

Subway

Subway sandwich
Photo credit: Bill Keaggy via Flickr

Though not every sandwich is healthy, Subway is by far one of the healthiest fast food restaurant chains around. Nothing is fried and most of the ingredients are fresh (or as fresh as they possibly can be). Order your sandwich without any mayonnaise or fattening dressings and add a bag of Baked! Lay's on the side. The whole meal will be right around 500 calories (for a six-inch sub) versus more than 1,000 for a meal from McDonald's.

2

Paradise Bakery

Paradise Bakery
Photo credit: jdong via Flickr

Who doesn't love soup, salad and fresh-baked sandwiches? Paradise Bakery offers an array of healthy options for you and your family. We love their new Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT paired with a Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad. Be warned, though — the cookies are big, delicious and fattening! Avoid them if possible or only eat half of one to save yourself some calories.

3

Chipotle

Chipotle
Photo credit: punctuated via Flickr

Craving Mexican food but don't want the grease and heaviness of a sit-down restaurant or the high-sodium content of Taco Bell? Head to Chipotle. Chipotle puts you in charge of your own meal and only provides the freshest of ingredients. Opt to get a burrito bowl to save 300 calories over the tortilla, and go light on the cheese and sour cream. Other than that, Chipotle is a healthy and affordable choice for a family Mexican meal.

4

Jason's Deli

Jason's Deli
Photo credit: Dave Hensley via Flickr

Jason's Deli is similar to Paradise Bakery but has significantly more locations spread throughout the U.S. It offers sandwiches, salads, wraps, pastas, paninis and more. Though you could very well consume more than 1,000 calories in a single trip, it's just as easy not to. Choose fresh fruit or steamed veggies as your side, avoid the pasta dishes and go with broth-based soups instead of cream-based. Your waistline will thank you later.

Healthy eating at any fast food restaurant

If you don't happen to live near one of the above-mentioned restaurants, have no fear. Nowadays, almost all fast food restaurants offer healthy choices, you just have to know what to look for. Healthy eating tips include:

  • Skip the soda. Soda packs on 130 calories or more. Opt for water or iced tea instead.
  • Choose healthy sides. Good sides include salad, fruit, soup or steamed veggies.
  • Order items without cheese, mayo or high-fat dressings.
  • Never "supersize" your meal.
  • Avoid bread when possible. For example, order your burger "protein-style" at In N' Out (the burger is wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun) or order chicken nuggets instead of a chicken sandwich.
  • Load up on veggies. If you're starving, ask for extra veggies on your main item to help fill you up.
  • Always order your food grilled instead of fried.

More healthy eating tips

Healthier fast food menu choices
We miscalculate fast food calories
The top 10 scariest food facts

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Comments

Comments on "The healthiest fast food restaurants"

laura July 13, 2013 | 7:58 AM

Evos is a great place with lots of healthy "fast food" choices

Kim July 06, 2013 | 11:06 PM

Paradise Bakery is owned by (and has the same menu as) Panera Bread. Panera (and St. Louis Bread Company) would include more locations than just the Paradise Bakery franchise.

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