Essentials for Eaters and Dieters

Can I Take Your Order?

Eating out can be incorporated into a healthy and balanced diet as long as you are conscious about the choices you make. Just like any other meal, it is important to try and balance your intake of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits. This task can be challenging as most fast food restaurants lack foods that include adequate fruit and vegetables while overwhelming customers with foods that are high in fat, sodium, and sugary carbohydrates. Although many restaurants are starting to offer healthier choices, options are still limited.

Below are some examples of balanced meal choices at selected fast food restaurants. Not listed is a choice of beverage. It is okay to choose a small soda once in a while, but choose water or milk more often. Fruit juice is also an alternative to regular soda, but both drinks can be high in calories and not very filling. Although fruit juice is a better choice than soda, try to limit consumption.

Papa Johns

Sample order:
2 slices Garden Fresh Pizza (baby portabella mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, onions, and sliced roma tomatoes)

Why is it a good choice?
Pizza includes a fairly high amount of protein from the cheese, carbohydrates from the crust, and some vegetables coming from the sauce and toppings. However, you should keep in mind that many pizzas are high in saturated fat, and therefore high in calories. Be aware of toppings such as extra cheese or a fatty meat that could significantly decrease the nutritional balance and value of your meal. Try to include these options only once in a while.

What needs to be added?
Although pizza does include a portion of your required servings of vegetables, additional vegetables are needed to satisfy your nutritional needs. Fruit also needs to be added, as it is completely lacking from this meal. Order a side salad with light dressing, or take the pizza home and add your own fruit and vegetables to the meal.

Subway

Sample order:
6” Oven Roasted Chicken Breast sandwich (your choice of toppings)
Bag of chips or a cookie

Why is it a good choice?
Protein sources in this meal are the meat and, if you choose to add it, the cheese. Carbohydrates are mainly provided by the bread. The vegetables, included as toppings, help to meet your recommended servings and also make you feel full. Try to add as many vegetables as possible. If you are physically active, the addition of a small bag of chips or a cookie will help achieve your energy requirements for the day.

What needs to be added?
Fruit needs to be added to this meal in order to make it more balanced. Bring a piece of fruit from home or add more fruit to your next meal. About a cup of fruit is sufficient.

Wendy's

Sample order:
Jr. Hamburger (ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onion)
Plain Baked Potato
Side Salad (Iceberg and Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, red onions, and carrots)
Light Salad Dressing
Fresh Fruit Cup (pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, and red grapes)

Why is it a good choice?
This meal includes protein from the hamburger meat, carbohydrates from the hamburger bun and baked potato, some vegetables from the salad, and a little fruit. Most of the items at fast food burger restaurants are extremely high in fat due to deep fat frying. Eating the baked potato (with skin) instead of the French fries increases the fiber and reduces the fat content of your meal.

What needs to be added?
This meal is fairly balanced.

Taco Bell

Sample order:
Chicken Burrito Supreme (chicken, beans, tangy red sauce, shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, onions, tomatoes and sour cream)
Beef Soft Taco (beef, shredded lettuce, and cheddar cheese)

Why is it a good choice?
The chicken, beef and beans provide protein, but many fast food restaurants enhance the flavor of their beans by adding saturated or trans fat (beef or pork fat, vegetable shortening, regular cheese, and regular sour cream).

What needs to be added?
Fruit and vegetables are lacking from this meal. Consider adding about a cup of each to help maintain balance.

 

Essentials for Eaters and Dieters | Version 2.0
Copyright ©2005, 2006 University of Illinois Board of Trustees