If you’re watching your weight and carefully monitoring your calories, a fast food restaurant may not seem like the ideal place to grab a bite. You may be intimidated by jumbo-size meals and drinks — not to mention other unhealthy attributes of fast food.
The good news is, you can find slimmed-down options at most fast food chains, thanks to the availability of smaller portion sizes and foods with lower fat and sugar counts.
“It is possible to eat almost anywhere when watching calories, especially at fast food restaurants,” said Keri Gans, a registered dietitian and author of “The Small Change Diet.”
It takes some planning, though. And there are proven tips and strategies for eating at fast food restaurants while counting calories and hoping to shed pounds.
Look up nutritional information ahead of time. Most menus are available online, so you can choose lower-calorie options before cravings come on strong.
You might be surprised at what you find. “Calorie counts are helpful when comparing items,” said Nicole Silber, a New York-based registered dietitian who counsels families and children on how to eat healthier. “For example, it’s common for salads to be higher in calories than hot entrees like burgers, because they are practically drowning in cheese and dressing.”
Avoid the drive-through. “Even if you are in a rush, try to allow at least 15 minutes to sit down and enjoy your meal. Taking a break from your day to relax and eat mindfully allows you to register those calories as satisfying, which can prevent overeating or snacking later,” said Rachel Lustgarten, a clinical dietitian at Weill Cornell Medicine.