Fast food is right up there with fat, sugar, and soft drinks as leading causes of obesity in the US today. Well, why wouldn’t it be? Fast food is famous for serving fat, sugar and soft drinks in massive quantities.
What if you happen to love fast food? What if it’s a cheap and convenient way for you to feed yourself? What if your job has you on the road and fast food is often all you have time to eat due to a overloaded schedule?
Does that mean you either give up fast food or stay fat?
It’s possible to lose weight at the drive thru. It’s a matter of making wise choices and taking advantage of the ways that fast food actually aids your weight loss progress.
What are the better fast food choices?
- Compare: Fast food menu boards post calories*. That gives you the ability to compare calories for all the menu items. An Egg McMuffin has fewer calories than the egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich on a biscuit.
- Consider: Maybe the McMuffin is fewer calories but it’s also less appealing and the feeling of fullness is brief. Maybe the biscuit breakfast sandwich is the better choice because it will keep you satisfied all morning until lunch.
- Have it your way: You can cut calories by asking to have it prepared without added fat/calories. No cheese, no mayo, no butter, no special sauces are easy ways to cut 100s of calories. Get a side salad instead of fries when you order a “combo meal.”
- Get it fast, eat it slowly: It’s a mistake to hold off eating until you’re so hungry you lose the ability to eat mindfully. If fast food is on your menu proceed to the fast food restaurant of your choice when you’re starting to become uncomfortably in need of food. Don’t wait until you are feeling faint, fuzzy, and headachey. You’ll be more likely to make better choices and eat mindfully. Mindfully means chewing thoroughly, more time between bites, and recognizing satiety (full tummy) independently of how much food is left.
- Go small or go home: Don’t accept the offers for larger portions or “2 apple pies for ninety-nine cents. If you order a meal and are asked “small, medium, or large?” answer, “small.”
- Throw away what’s left when you’re full: Eating the whole burger or every last one of the fries isn’t being fiscally responsible. It’s being satisfactionally irresponsible. You already spent the money on your meal. Eating all of it won’t save money but throwing away what you don’t need to eat because you’re full may change how you order next time. There is the win/win! You’re reconditioning your response to eating more than you need and you’re saving money at the window by reducing your order next time.
- Take advantage of the built-in portion control: There’s no seconds. You get your food and you drive away. Unless you circle back to order more food, once you drive away you only have what’s in the bag.
Although you may hear to the contrary, fast food isn’t any more of a threat to losing weight than any other food. It’s a matter of how you eat it. As a meal, it can easily fit into your weight management plan, especially if you pay attention to the tips in this blog. Eating fast food impulsively as a snack in between meals isn’t advised. Carry fruit or vegetables for snacking. Keep your car on the road and away from the drive thru windows unless you’ll be having a meal and be willing to be accountable for it.
* Don’t expect the calorie counts to magically lower your weight. The information won’t do you any good unless you put it to good use by counting and tracking.