Cheeseburgers, tacos and even pizza are all familiar fast food fare, and when we only have 30 minutes for lunch, it seems to be the only option. Fast food restaurants often offer foods high in calories and fat, not to mention, high in sodium and sugar. But, there are healthier alternatives available even in a sea of unsavory options at the All-American favorites.
Time: Early Morning
Mood/Physical State: Stomach growling, feeling weak, tired and cranky.
Cuisine Available: Fast Food Feast or Perish.
Suggestion: McDonald’s Fruit and Yogurt Parfait.
Low in Sodium (for a fast food joint), high in Carbs and Sugars, but full of Vitamin C and Calcium, not to mention antioxidants in the fruit-filled cup of creamy vanilla yogurt. This is more like breakfast dessert.
Add-Ons: Small milk or apple juice, plain English muffin with jam or apple dippers.
Alternative: If you need more protein, try Burger King’s Egg & Cheese Croissan’wich for 300 calories.
Mood/Physical State: More upbeat and energetic, a bit hungry and in a rush to get back before 5th period.
Cuisine Available: Five Star Fast Food.
Suggestion: Subway’s six inch turkey breast, ham, roast beef or veggie sub on white or wheat.
These filling lunch-time sandwiches are low in fat and offer lots of choices for customizing. Just remember to go easy on the condiments and ask for extra veggies.
Add-Ons: Small berry or peach fruizle (smoothie) or small vegetable based soup.
Alternative: In the mood for Chinese, grab mushroom chicken, string bean chicken breast, tangy shrimp with pineapple or broccoli and beef from Panda Express all for less than 200 calories.
Time: Late Afternoon
Mood/Physical State: A bit sleepy, not overly hungry, but need a pick-me-up before practice.
Cuisine Available: Fast Food Only.
Suggestion: Burger King’s Motts Strawberry Flavored Applesauce with an order of chicken tenders if you need the protein. Not just for kids, applesauce is low in fat and calories and provides a little fiber and Vitamin C. A simple and healthy snack.
Add-Ons: Side Salad with a light Italian dressing.
Alternative: Head over to Taco Bell and pick up a Fresno Style Crunchy Taco for only 150 calories.
Time: End of Day Dinner
Mood/Physical State: Need some energy to help me focus on studies.
Cuisine Available: Fast Food Extravaganza.
Suggestion: Wendy’s Jr. Hamburger, Crispy Chicken Sandwich or a half order of the Berry Almond Chicken Salad. All three options are full of protein and fairly low in fat.
Add-Ons: Garden Side Salad with light dressing, small chili or apple slices.
Alternative: Pick up a Med Sandwich at Noodles and Company for 330 calories.
Fast food restaurants are beginning to offer healthier options on their menus, so take the time to look up their nutrition information online and learn more about what you’re eating before you get in a school-week hunger rush.