Healthy Alternatives to Eating Fast Food
Harvard School of Public Health states that consuming fast food increases your risk of obesity-related conditions. Giving up fast food seems intimidating, as you can sacrifice both convenience and indulgence; however, eating healthful alternatives will improve your health, and eventually, your cravings for fast food will diminish.
Fast food breakfasts such as breakfast burritos, sausage and cheese sandwiches, syrup-soaked pancakes and oily waffles aren't the way to start your day. Alternatives such as lettuce wraps, tofu scrambles, egg and toast and oatmeal pancakes are healthier choices to give your body energy and nutrition. Compare the 450 calories and 31 grams of fat in a fast-food biscuit with egg and bacon to the 130 calories and 5 grams of fat in a scramble with four egg whites and 1 ounce of cooked turkey bacon. Time’s often an issue for breakfast, but you can prepare many alternative breakfasts in advance and heat them during a busy morning. For example, make a batch of breakfast burritos from black beans, egg whites, chopped bell peppers and corn tortillas and freeze them individually wrapped. Alternately, have a smoothie made from fresh fruit, a sliced apple with peanut butter or strawberries with almond butter for an energy boost.
Fast food lunches like cheeseburgers, french fries or fish and chips can cause fatigue rather than giving you energy. Alternatives such as baked sweet potato fries, tuna salad or a stuffed pita are much healthier. A fast-food double burger has more than 942 calories and 58 grams of fat; to compare, a 3-ounce turkey burger on a whole-wheat pita has 169 calories and 2 grams of fat. While it’s undeniably less indulgent, it’s far better for your health. Other lunch options include a butterhead lettuce and tomato salad with balsamic vinegar, tomato soup, steamed fish with spinach or a chicken breast lettuce wrap with avocado. If you need lunch to-go, bring it in an insulated lunch box with ice packs to keep your food cold or a thermos to keep soup warm.
Fast-food dinners are not an ideal way to end your day. Instead of greasy pizza, create a homemade Margherita pizza, swap fried chicken for oven-baked chicken and have a salad with whole-grain bread instead of a deli sandwich. Other choices for dinner include homemade soup, vegetable stir-fry, steamed lean meat or whole-wheat pasta. Replacing two pieces of fast-food fried chicken, which has more than 431 calories and 26 grams of fat, with 3 ounces of chicken breast for less than 100 calories and around 2 grams of fat instantly makes dinner healthier. If you need dinner quickly, prepare a large batch of soup, salad or sandwich filling at the beginning of the week or use a slow cooker to prepare lean meats and stews while you’re away for the day.
Snacks and Desserts
Chips, french fries, popcorn chicken, pie, ice cream shakes and other unhealthy snacks and desserts do not nourish your body. Fresh fruit is an ideal replacement; it doubles as both a delicious snack and healthful dessert, and there’s multiple types from which to choose. Smoothies are excellent replacements for fast-food shakes. To compare, a large strawberry shake has more than 550 calories and 13 grams of fat; replace it with a smoothie made from 1 cup of plain, fat-free yogurt and 1 cup of fresh strawberries for 186 calories and 1 gram of fat. Fruit salads, fruit pudding made with silken tofu and fruit dipped in chocolate are other tasty dessert choices. For savory snacks, vegetables sticks, whole-grain crackers or roasted chickpeas are tasty choices.
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