Healthier Fast-Food Choices with BD Medical
As a dietitian, going through the fast-food drive-thru is not a recommendation that I usually give out. But I’m going to also acknowledge: Life happens! If you are on a road trip, if you didn’t plan enough in advance, or even if you don’t have enough time, you may find yourself ordering through the speaker at the window. Of course we want to support you and give you resources so you don’t feel like you have to drive for fast food; but if it does happen, let’s chat more about what this may look like when you are making your order.
I sat down with Rita Saltiel-Berzin, RN, MPH, CDCES, CHES from BD™ Diabetes to talk more about what they discuss with their patients. Rita is a nurse, but is also a diabetes clinical specialist – such an important part of patients and supporting their lifestyle. BD Diabetes provides education and technology for clinical patients to help them manage their diabetes in a better fashion. Below are some tips that they provide regarding fast-food intake, especially when it comes to managing diabetes and enjoying the occasional order of fries.
Choose Smarter Sides
Instead of French fries or onion rings, which weigh in at about 400 calories per serving and pack loads of fat and sodium, order healthy side dishes. Try vegetables and fruits such as salads, apple slices and carrots. If you really crave potatoes, skip the fries and ask if your favorite fast-food restaurant offers baked potatoes.
Modify Your Menu
Nearly all family-style restaurants offer healthier versions of classic fare, such as grilled chicken sandwiches, salad bars and steamed veggies. Guess what? So do fast-food locations! Most chains have their menu online, so avoid temptation by deciding what to order before you leave the house.
Try this great trick to keep portions in check: Order the smallest sandwich on the menu or choose a child’s meal. A small burger, for example, will only give you about 200 calories, whereas a triple decker weighs in at nearly 600 calories or more. Dietitian tip: Make sure to add another side (see above) so you don’t feel like you need to order something else to satisfy another craving so quickly afterward. If you order a small burger, pair with fruit or veggies so you can eat protein and fiber together. Doing this will keep your blood sugar stabilized and will help keep you full!
Go for Grilled
Ask for grilled chicken instead of fried chicken in sandwiches, wraps and salads. If your favorite fast-food joint offers grilled veggies on sandwiches, ask if they can serve them to you as a side dish.
Use Caution with Condiments
Cheese, fatty spreads and sweet sauces are hidden sources of fat, calories and carbs, especially in fast food. Ask for your sandwiches without mayonnaise, sauces and cheese, and add tiny amounts for extra flavor. Don’t slather your side dishes with mayo or ketchup either. I suggest asking for everything on the side, and you can add as you please.
Choose Skinny Sauces
Opt for low-fat or low-calorie sauces, toppings and dressings such as mustard, fat-free salad dressing, vinegar, salsa or pickles.
Be Salad Savvy
Order a main course salad, but be careful. Sometimes salads with a lot of high-fat meats and cheese actually pack more calories than a cheeseburger. Skip the bacon bits, cheese crumbles and fatty, creamy dressings or – again – get them on the side! When it comes to salad dressing, a little can go a long way, so use the smallest amount possible or, better yet, drizzle on fat-free vinaigrette.
Pick Power Proteins
When you choose proteins to fill your sandwich or wrap, limit bacon, sausage and meatballs, all of which pack loads of saturated fat and sodium. Instead, go for lean meats like roasted chicken or turkey breast or veggies.
Here’s the Scoop
If you are a fan of submarine sandwiches, ask your server to scoop out some of the carb-loaded bread before making your meal. Better yet, ask him to pile on fresh veggies instead. You won’t notice the difference, but your waistline and blood sugar will thank you!
Did you know a large soda might add more calories to your meal than a burger? Juices and lemonades aren’t much better. Don’t drink your carbs and calories: Choose sugar-free drinks, such as water (best choice!), unsweetened tea, coffee or diet soda.
Thank you to BD Diabetes for helping our team with this post. Since everyone’s experience with diabetes is different, their company is a fabulous resource to help with self-management tools, especially since they have the BD™ Diabetes Care app.
Make sure to connect with our Hy-Vee dietitians to learn more about services we offer, and especially how we can help you with your diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Even if you are supporting a friend or family member, we can help you with a diabetes-friendly virtual store tour, or you can book a consultation with us. Find a dietitian closest to you here.
*The blog articles, recipes and recommendations found on this site are not intended as medical advice and should not replace consulting with your medical provider. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.