Eating Healthy at Fast Food Restaurants

Woman choosing between an apple and a hamburger.
Fast food restaurants are convenient and fast but they can be far from healthy. Many fast food restaurants have added healthier items to their menus, however they can be confusing and even misleading. This is a page about eating healthy at fast food restaurants.

3 Solutions

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January 28, 2005

Excluding Subway, the more healthy items at fast food chains are the more expensive (e.g., Grilled Chicken sandwich vs. a Big Mac). When you go, make sure to ask if you can SUBSTITUTE a healthy side item, like a salad, for french fries or potato chips.

By defoliate

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March 4, 2005

Do not wait in a drive-through line for food to go, you will save money on gas lost waiting in line, and also get exercise by parking your car and walking inside to order!

By Bobbie

Editor's Note: Also, it's much easier to check your order and have mistakes fixed if you are inside the restaurant.

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Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

September 20, 2007

Tips for eating healthy at food places. Is it even possible? Post your tips and ideas below!


September 21, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

I'm not a 'health-food nut', but here are a few suggestions: First, try to avoid 'fast-food' joints. There are many fast, healthy ways most people can do this. I start every morning (after half a pot of coffee) with two or three Tbsp. raw oat bran mixed well with a glass of V-8 or other veg. juice, followed by a good breakfast. By lunch-time I'm only a little hungry so I get by fine with a good salad (lots of peppers, onions, olives, tomatoes, etc.) If you must hit a fast-food joint try to find one with a good salad bar; Windy's used to fit the bill quite nicely and probably still does. A more thrifty option is to keep a large sealed container of home-tossed salad in the fridge (without tomatoes or dressing).


Fill a bowl, add tomatoes and dressing, and you can be eating in less than a minute.
For dinner broiled or grilled fish, chicken, or whatever, with veggies works well.

Personally I'm trying to gain a few pounds so I like a large supper with lots of pork or rare red meat and trimmings, and I might still be eating at midnight. If you are watching your weight, or sugar, carbs, fat, etc. the previous suggestions might help. Also in that case take your evening meal early. Eating late is not very healthy. Good luck!

By glinda (Guest Post)
September 22, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

When I'm losing weight, it is always better to plan meals at home. But, I know there are times we must eat out. My husband is a minister, and we were visiting a church for 4 days. I figured on gaining weight with that much eating out, so I got my head ready ahead of time, as the old saying goes. I found out, if it's McD. or Subway while on the road, there is a way to stay with the veges. That is a rule of thumb when eating out. Try to stick with veges and salads. But, the dressing will really come back to haunt you. They tell me the dressing has almost as many calories as a Big Mac. So stick with low cal/ low fat or no dressing. When I tire of salads, I order broiled fish, chicken, or even a breakfast plate if you are at Shonies. Sides with your broiled meat are usually really good.


One night I ordered a late supper breakfast, and left off the toast, and had the lean ham with my eggs and potatoes, it was a nice change of pace. You must have variety. I love the new deli sandwiches at Wendys, but, get them to leave off the fries. It seems like resturants are gearing more toward the "healthy eater" now. Wendy's and Subway are my favorite "quick" healthy meal out on the go. If I get somewhere with a menu, I can pick broiled meat and vegetables. Beware of and avoid all-you-can-eat buffets. I'm a big eater and that gets me everytime. Stick with measured out portions. Bob Evans has a GREAT grilled fish with some good sides, and a good salad. I was happy to see, I did not gain weight from the 4 days of eating out.

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