If you are like most, fast food is a way of life, at least part of the time. While it’s true, there are better options on most menus to help avoid major diet dings, the truth is, they are still not “healthy” and are loaded with much sodium and pesticides. Fast Food Myths: They all have them.
Let’s look at McDonald’s and their newest salad introduction that’s an attempt to offer healthier alternatives.
McDonald’s has unveiled a new salad with a “nutrient-rich lettuce blend with baby kale,” shaved parmesan, and chicken (grilled or fried). Like many fast-food salads, it may seem like a healthy option at first, but it’s not. The salad, when paired with the restaurant’s Asiago Caesar Dressing, packs more fat, calories, and salt than a double Big Mac—that’s a sandwich with four beef patties.
According to the McDonald’s nutrition center, which is accessible via their website, the salad contains 520 calories, 31g of fat and 1,140 milligrams of sodium.
But when you add in the Asiago Caesar dressing, it rockets up to 730 calories, 53 grams of fat, and 1,400 milligrams of sodium – whereas the Double Big Mac rings in at 680 calories, 38g of fat and 1,340 milligrams of sodium.
This doesn’t factor in the greens mixture being used, which is not organic, therefore it’s also loaded with pesticides, which adds to the toxic overload of chemicals being put on or into our bodies.
In a recent study, researchers found that 92% of large-chain, local-chain, and mom-and-pop restaurants served meals that exceeded the calorie intake for what is considered a healthy meal. This study included 364 meals from restaurants in three cities: Boston, San Francisco, and Little Rock, Arkansas. The meals covered American, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese-style cuisine.
In 123 of the restaurants sampled, at least one menu entrée exceeded the recommended amount of calories for an entire day—and that didn’t include drinks, appetizers, or desserts. Meals from American, Chinese and Italian-style restaurants tipped the scales with the most calories, an average of 1,495 calories per meal.
When it comes to fast food, “healthy” basically means food that offers you a decent combination of macronutrients, without going overboard on calories or potentially harmful things (like sugar or sodium, for people who have high blood pressure). The key here is moderation, with ideally some benefits if possible. With all that in mind, here are the parameters for the foods below:
- Low in calories:For lunch, that means about 500 calories or less and dinner is 800 calories or less.
- Protein, to help you build muscles:Look for meals that have at least 10 grams of protein (ideally more!).
- Low in sodium (or at least not HIGH in sodium):Aim for less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium per meal (which is high already, yes).
- Low in sugar (or at least not HIGH in sugar):Looking for less than 20 grams of sugar.
- No trans fat:Trans fats are related to heart disease.
Of course there is always the option to pack your lunch and further control what you put in. Sometimes it is not worth the feelings after a really bad meal.
By now, you should also know the trigger foods for you, if not, I suggest you start with keeping a food journal for a while. This entails detailing everything (I mean everything) you eat and how it makes you feel.
My best advice, limit eating out as much as possible. Not only will you feel better, you’ll also save money.
What experiences have you had with making “healthier” choices while eating out? Comment below and we’ll do this journey together.
To your health,
Holistic Wellness Mentor