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Sometimes a fast-food restaurant is all that’s available, but that doesn’t mean your meal has to be unhealthy. In honor of American Heart Month, Megan Moore, R.D., L.D., CDE, a registered dietitian on the medical staff of Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano, offers a few tips for making fast food heart healthier.
1. Just say no. Say no to bacon, mayo and sour cream, and stay away from anything fried. “That includes French fries,” Moore says.
2. Choose chicken. “The ground beef used at fast-food restaurants is typically between only 73 and 80 percent lean,” Moore says, noting that the fat content is quite high. “So, it’s usually better if you can go with chicken. Just make sure you choose grilled chicken.”
3. Watch your portion sizes. Fast-food joints might encourage you to get the meal deal or to super-size, Moore says. “Don’t fall for that,” she adds. “Go ahead and get the kids’ portion. And don’t get the double meat or double cheese.” And if you absolutely must get French fries, she advises, split them with the whole family.
4. Be wary of salad. Salads can be deceiving. Avoid those with bacon and fried chicken, and check the dressing label. “Sometimes, the salad is more calories than the burger, and that’s usually because of the dressing,” Moore notes. “If you go with a low-calorie dressing, then the salad can be a good option.”
5. Select smart sides. Whether it’s sliced apples at McDonald’s or mandarin oranges at Wendy’s, make your meal healthier with nutritious sides.
6. Don’t overlook drinks. Lemonade, sweet tea and sodas can add a lot of calories to your meal, Moore says. Instead, choose unsweetened tea, water and diet sodas, she advises. If you have to have a soda, have the kids’ size, or dilute lemonade with water to get some of the flavor without all the calories.
If you’re trying to stay on a budget, there are ways to eat healthy without heading to the nearest drive-thru. Check out these seven tips for eating healthy on a budget.
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