The Roadmap to Healthy Eating in a World of Fast Food

Use these easy tips when eating out in order to enjoy a guilt-free, delicious meal! 

When dining at a fast food burger restaurant choose:

  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • Regular, single-patty hamburger without cheese or mayonnaise
  • Veggie burger
  • Garden salad with grilled chicken and low-fat dressing
  • Egg on English muffin           
  • Baked potato or side salad
  • Grilled chicken strips
  • Remember to limit cheese, mayonnaise, and special condiments/sauces

Examples: McDonalds Hamburger (260kcal, 9g fat, 3.5 saturated fat) or Wendy’s Junior Hamburger (280kcal, 9g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat).

When dining at a fried chicken chain restaurant choose:

  • Skinless chicken breast, not breaded
  • Garden salad
  • Vegetables, as plain as possible
  • Honey barbecue chicken sandwich
  • AVOID: gravy and sauces

Examples: KFC Original Chicken Breast (skin and breading removed) and side of green beans, 190kcal, 4.5g fat (1.5g saturated fat)

When dining at a Mexican chain restaurant choose:

  • Veggie and bean burrito
  • Black beans
  • Grilled chicken in a soft taco
  • Grilled steak burrito
  • Shrimp ensalada (salad)
  • Salsa!
  • Limit sour cream, cheese, crunchy or fried tortillas or tortilla strips, and watch portion sizes for guacamole

Examples: Taco Bell Taco Salad (without sour cream, cheese, or crunchy tortilla bowl), 330 kcal, 13g fat (5g saturated fat).

When eating at a sub sandwich chain choose:

  • Lean meat (turkey breast, roast beef, lean ham) or vegetables
  • Whole grain/whole wheat bread or roll
  • One or two slices of low fat cheese (example: swiss, mozzarella)
  • Add mustard or low fat dressing in place of mayonnaise
  • Add plenty of extra veggies as toppings
  • Choose a six-inch sub, and if possible take off the top piece of bread and have an open-faced sandwich.

Example: Subway 6” roast beef sandwich (whole wheat bread, no mayonnaise, plenty of veggies), 290kcal, 5g fat (2g saturated fat).

When eating at an Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, etc…) restaurant choose:

  • Egg drop, miso, hot and sour, or wonton soup
  • Stir-fried, steamed, or broiled entrees
  • Steamed or baked tofu
  • Steamed brown rice
  • Edamame, cucumber salad, or stir-fried vegetables
  • Sauces: Ponzu, rice wine vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger

Example: Panda Express’ String Bean Chicken Breast and side of Mixed Veggies, 195kcal, 6g fat (1g saturated fat).

When eating at an Italian restaurant choose:

  • Minestrone soup and side salad
  • Pasta with tomato sauce and veggies (watch portion size of pasta)
  • Side order of vegetables
  • Thing crust pizza with half the amount of cheese and plenty of vegetable toppings
  • Grilled dishes
  • Limit or eliminate bread and butter, breadsticks, and garlic bread

Example: Pizza Hut’s Fit ‘N Delicious Chicken and Veggie Pizza (2 Slices), 208kcal, 9g fat (4g saturated fat)

When eating at an Indian restaurant choose:

  • Legumes (lentils and chickpeas)
  • Vegetarian options
  • Lean meats, chicken, and seafood (try and stick to chicken or seafood as some of the beef and lamb cuts used in dishes can be fatty).
  • Tikka, Tandoori, or kabob preparations
  • Mulligatawny or lentil soup
  • Basmati rice
  • Pappadam bread (cracker-like flat bread)
  • Ask to have foods cooked without coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • Steer clear of creamy curry sauces, dishes with the descriptor “korma,” “Ghee” (clarified butter used in many Indian dishes), or “Molee” (coconut cream or milk, often used in curries).  Fried foods (such as samosas), foods containing Indian varieties of cheese, high fat beef or lamb entrees, and flat breads that are often fried or spread with butter (naan, roti, chapatti, and kulcha) should also be avoided.

Example dish: Gobhi Matar Tamatar, about 1 cup, with ½ cup of basmati rice, 225kcal, 2.3g fat.

When eating out at a Thai food restaurant choose:

  • Thai food can be easily laden with fat and calories with heavy use of ingredients like coconut milk, creams, and oils.  Follow these easy tips to help you make healthy decisions.
  • A lighter curry like the Gaeng Pah.  Gaeng pah is a county-style curry that’s lower in calories and fat as water is used instead of coconut milk.  (*Gaeng pa curries tend to be a bit spicier than other curries)
  • Steamed rice instead of fried rice
  • Stir-fried, steamed, or grilled entrees when possible
  • Shrimp or grilled tofu summer rolls.  They are filled with healthy vegetables and are delicious and satisfying without weighing you down.  The rolls are usually served with a peanut dipping sauce but remember to take it easy on the sauces–they are high in calories, fat, and sugar.
  • Thai entrees tend to be quite generous in portion size, which could easily cause over-eating.  To make it easier to stay on track, only plate the amount of food to be eaten and ask the waiter to pack away the remaining.  This way, you’ll save yourself from overeating and you could make another meal out of the leftovers.

Example dish:  Vietnamese fresh shrimp spring rolls (2 rolls) and Thai cucumber and jicama salad (Man Kaeo), 410 kcal, 11g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat.

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