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Break up with Fast-Food: Healthy Option on the Go

Like many, we did our own share of traveling in December.

Our trip was 7 hours long. We ate lunch before we left and packed fruit, baby carrots, and cut-up veggies for snacks and sandwiches for dinner.

Coming back, we had to eat two meals on the road: we packed one and left the other for spontaneity. Bad call.

Ideally, we would have stopped at a sit-in restaurant since they tend to be somewhat healthier than fast-food. But we wanted a space for our 15 month old toddler to walk (can’t do that outside with 30 F temperature and restaurants have no room to run around). So a rest area–with fast-food–was our only choice.

Since we barely ever have fast-food, I decided to indulge and eat whatever I felt like. Burger King was there, and the whopper sandwich was my choice. My husband ordered the grilled chicken–yes he made a healthier choice!–and we got our son the chicken fingers.

"Fast-food: it's time we break-up!"

My son refused the chicken fingers. Terrible taste and dry despite their fat content. Half way through my sandwich, I stopped. It was just bad. And I don’t mean bad-for-your-health bad, it just didn’t taste anything close to good.

So we spent $20 for a nutrition disaster and a bad tasting meal. I wasn’t so proud of my food choice, but I’m happy I stopped half way. It wasn’t worth any single calorie or fat gram I was putting inside my body.

Had it been a delicious sandwich or even a dessert to savor, I would have justified it.

Am I the only one who doesn’t like fast-food? How many people out there agree with me but find themselves eating it “coincidentally” because it’s there; on the highway, on the way home, by work, or in the food court?

My message for you is to rethink your fast-food choices. Do they deserve your love or attention? How can you break-up with them, today?

Pack your lunch! It only takes 5 minutes

  • At work: pack your lunch. Two slices of toast, with a two slices of turkey, and a slice of low-fat cheese are a simple investment of time. Grab a fruit and a container of yogurt, and lunch is ready.
  • On a road trip: have an small ice-box in the back seat or trunk to keep healthy perishables, such as fruit, cheese, yogurt, or sandwiches, from going bad.
  • On the way home from work: leave a healthy snack in the car so you won’t feel the need to stop at a fast-food restaurant. Nuts, dried fruits, or whole wheat crackers survive all weathers.
  • When running errands: grab a snack on your way out. An apple, nuts, dried fruits, whole grain cereal (shredded wheat), or whole wheat crackers are simple and fast.
  • At the mall: make sure you’re really hungry before you hit the food court. Browse what’s available then make a decision. Can you find a grilled sandwich or salad? Can you skip the fries?
  • When all measures to avoid fast-food fail: go online now and read the nutrition information of the fast-food restaurants you might end up stopping at. Make a note the healthiest menu item–and write it on a paper or in your smart phone. This way, the healthy decision is made ahead of time.

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  • Julie Wright January 13, 2010, 6:45 pm

    Nour, this site is wonderful!!! I will be referring my physician assistant classmates to this site for information. Great job!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD January 13, 2010, 9:33 pm

      Hi julie!
      Glad to hear from you! Thanks for the comment and yes please share!

  • Farah January 13, 2010, 6:53 pm

    this is a really good post. I always find myself trying to find something to eat while out… I like your recommendations of what to substitute. I need to stock my pantry/fridge with those snacks and be sure to pack them along when we are on the go. I used to not really care about eating unhealthy fastfood, but I now consider healthy eating choices especially in terms of my 1 year old.

    Thanks so much!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD January 13, 2010, 9:36 pm

      Thanks Farah! Now that you are already packing a snack or meal for your 1 year old, you might as well pack one for you!
      I will be writing about the top foods that need to be in your pantry soon. Make sure you catch it.

  • Crystal January 14, 2010, 2:11 pm

    I try to avoid fast food, buy Hubby still likes to indulge occasionally. When we travel I try to get healthier choices. I make sure Subway is a stop that we make – at least we get veggies that way! Wendy’s is also a good choice as you can get a baked potato and side salad (which are not the best but only cost $1, unless prices have gone up since I was there last.)
    Thanks for the great ideas!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD January 14, 2010, 3:17 pm

      Thank you Crystal. Some fast-food restaurants are trying to offer healthier options, so we have to give them some credit. The problem is that people don’t always find the healthy option, or choose not to buy it. You’re on the right track. Find out which places on the road have better options and stop there. Pack as many snacks as you can.

      Nour

  • Rosanne Rust January 14, 2010, 2:53 pm

    Nour.
    I love these tips! So practical and if folks can manage to try them, they will have success in weight control and achieve a more balanced diet! Even us dietitians have to have strategies in place to ensure we make good choices.

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD January 14, 2010, 3:19 pm

      Yes absolutely. People think dietitians are a different class when it comes to eating healthy, but we really work as much as others to make better options. Thank you for the comment!

      Nour