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What are Some Healthy Fast Food Options?

Niki Acker
Updated Feb 01, 2024
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Fast food is notorious for its high fat and salt content and general unhealthiness, but unfortunately, we don't always have the time for a home-cooked meal. Luckily, most fast food chains have a few healthy fast food options, and all of them are required to provide nutritional information upon request. Many fast food establishments have this information posted in plain view inside the restaurant. In addition, many restaurants have responded to the demand for healthy fast food with more nutritious menu items.

When seeking a healthy fast food dining experience, there are a few notable pitfalls to look out for. Much of the unhealthiness of fast food lies in the sauces and condiments. By requesting your burger without special sauce, for example, you can cut out some unnecessary fat and calories. Soda can add a lot of empty sugar calories to your meal as well, so choose water, unsweetened ice tea, or low-fat milk instead. To keep your portion size under control, avoid the temptation to supersize, and consider replacing those fries with a side salad or piece of fruit.

Depending on which restaurants you frequent, a healthy fast food choice may be a single burger or a grilled chicken or fish sandwich, as long as you forgo the fatty sauces and cheese. Fruit salad or fruit with yogurt is another healthy fast food option, as is a green salad - but again, keep an eye out for unwanted calories in the dressing, and go with the low-fat option if available. Wraps or sandwiches on whole wheat bread, rolls, or pita are excellent choices in the quest for healthy fast food. Some fast food restaurants also serve baked potatoes with veggies - another fine choice. Just steer clear of the butter, cheese, and sour cream.

Anything fried, especially with breading, should be avoided by those who wish to eat healthy fast food. Some of the biggest offenders in this area are fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and, of course, French fries and onion rings. Sauces to avoid include mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese sauces, gravy, guacamole, salad dressing, and tartar sauce.

If you find yourself having trouble deciding which fast food options are best for your diet, review the nutritional facts before dining out. As mentioned above, these are available at fast food restaurants, as well as on their websites. If you have a specific limit for your caloric, fat, or salt intake, for example, looking at the numbers in a handy guide can make the process of choosing healthy fast food a lot simpler.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a WiseGeek editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
By anon341790 — On Jul 14, 2013

So is there any fast food restaurant that is considered "healthy"?

By rjohnson — On Feb 10, 2008

If you do decide to get one of those calorie bombs of a meal that fast food restaurants offer, I recommend getting the small size. They typically offer small, medium or regular, and large size options. I've noticed that when you order the "#1" they'll ask, do you want that regular or medium. Making you think that you are being smart by choosing medium. In fact, they're omitting what the combo comes with normally - the size the price is based on - small! I think that's just to get a few more pennies out of you! But since small should be enough food anyway, it might be smart, calorie-wise and penny-wise, to ask for their smallest portion!

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a WiseGeek editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of...
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