If Fast-Food Is Your Only Option, Choose These Menu Items

by | Jun 28, 2022 | Issue 150, Issues | 0 comments

If you find yourself at a fast-food restaurant, you might already know what to order and what items to avoid. But suppose you're like many Americans who rely on local,...

If you find yourself at a fast-food restaurant, you might already know what to order and what items to avoid. But suppose you’re like many Americans who rely on local, quick-service restaurants for their meals. In that case, it’s worth becoming familiar with the healthiest menu options available at national chains such as McDonald’s, Subway and Burger King.

We know it can be challenging to make a healthful choice when you’re standing in line and staring down the menu board at your favorite fast-food restaurant. As a last resort, here are 10 relatively nutritious picks from some of the most popular chains in the U.S., as well as an accompanying “no-no” list of those foods never worth ordering.

McDonald’s: Fruit and Maple Oatmeal 

With 320 calories, you get four grams of fiber, six grams of protein, and you can save 30 calories if you skip the sugar. It’s a delicious and nutritious fast choice. 

Subway: Veggie Delite Sandwich

On the go and looking for a light lunch? Subway’s 6-inch Veggie Delite sandwich is an excellent option for health-conscious fast food lovers. The chicken has 230 calories, three grams of fat and 280 milligrams of sodium without the cheese and sauces. To boost your protein intake and stay full longer, try adding a little cheese.

Burger King: Whopper Jr. or Hamburger

In search of the healthiest fast-food burger? Grab a Whopper Jr. for only 290 calories, 12 grams of fat and 500 grams of sodium. For an even healthier choice, hold the mayo.

Chick-Fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Nuggets

Chick-Fil-A offers great grilled chicken nuggets, a great alternative to the traditional fried chicken nuggets since it contains only 130 calories and a significant amount of protein (13 grams). Pairing this with a side salad creates a complete and well-rounded meal.

Starbucks’ Protein Box

You can never go wrong with a protein box. At Starbucks, each box contains a good balance of healthy carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats from either fruit or vegetables or a combination of both. Sometimes, they twist it up with nuts, fruit, cheese and boiled eggs. Each box contains approximately 300 calories, 11 grams of fat (four grams saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat), 420 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbs (one gram of fiber, five grams of sugar), and 13 grams of protein.

Chipotle: Vegetarian Burrito Bowl

You can create a healthy Chipotle order with light options like roasted veggies and hearty brown rice in just seconds! The vegetarian burrito bowl contains 470 calories, 16 grams of fat and 1,595 milligrams of sodium. Using these recipes, you can even recreate your favorite meals with less sodium.

Arby’s: Ham and Swiss Melt

Even though Arby’s is known for its roast beef, they also have lighter sandwiches. This ham and Swiss melt has just 300 calories, nine grams of fat and 1,030 milligrams of sodium, so it’s one of the healthiest fast-food options at this restaurant. Many menu items at Arby’s are high in sodium, so it’s best to go with the lighter sandwich options if you’re trying to maintain a low salt intake.

Panera’s Turkey Chili

Due to the protein in the turkey and protein and fiber in the beans, this satisfying soup will get you filled in seconds. Plus, it’s total comfort food. Turkey chili also happens to be a healthy crockpot recipe.

Subway’s Tuna Salad Sub

This sub comes in under 500 calories, with five grams of fiber, 19 grams of protein and a good source of vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. You can also include avocado, which adds on just 60 calories with good fats, or add more tuna or any meat of your choice for extra protein.

Chick-Fil-A’s Grilled Market Salad

The Grilled Market Salad with lean protein, fruit and vegetables can be a healthy lunch or dinner pick. To keep calories low, try it with the Light Balsamic Vinaigrette if you’re unsure of which dressing to choose.

A Parting Reminder

If you’re looking to make healthier choices at the drive-thru, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You might think you’re starving, but you could actually be thirsty. Drink some water before diving into your meal to fill yourself up a bit first.
  • Choose the grilled options instead of the fried ones. By doing so, you will save calories for other foods.
  • You do not have to super-size anything. 
  • Put the sauce on hold! The amount of sauce added to a sandwich can add up in calories. These sauces can also contain sugar and fat, which are filler calories.
  • You don’t have to order fries on the side. Fries are high in carbs and fats. Also, sometimes it might take a while for you to feel full, so downing a side of fries only to feel overindulged after isn’t the best option

Kathleen Hernandez

Kathleen Hernandez