In today’s busy world, it is just about impossible to eat strictly from your own kitchen; inevitably, there will be some times when you have to grab your food on the run. Unfortunately, many of these on-the-go venues can be the worst traps for unhealthy eating. Here’s a few tips to help you keep your intake healthy!

1. Ask for the nutritional information.

At most fast food restaurants, nutritional information is readily available behind the counter (or increasingly, on napkins, or even posted on the wall!). Ask for a printout to help you make your selection. A reasonably portioned meal should contain 300-400 calories.

2. Go for the greens – carefully!

Most quick-fix restaurants are aware of the general impetus to improve availability of healthy food choices, and many have provided quality options on their menus.  For example, McDonalds’ Oriental Chicken salad has 290 calories and 5 grams of fat; the Bacon Ranch salad with balsaming dressing has 330 calories and 16 grams of fat.

Be careful, though, as there are some imposters too: the McDonald’s Chicken Caesar has 550 calories and 36 grams of fat, and switching the balsamic for Ranch dressing on your Bacon Ranch salad adds a whopping 200 calories and 19 grams of fat!

3. Portion Control.

At Subway, go for the 4 inch or 6 inch sandwiches (not the 12″). Supersize only your diet pop! A regular hamburger at McDonalds is not an unreasonable treat at 250 calories, but a Big Mac is over double that at 550 calories.

4. Avoid liquid calories.

It is generally advised to eat your calories rather than drink them, as liquid calories are less satiating and leave you hungering for something else. For example, it is better to eat an orange than to drink a glass of orange juice. There are also many hidden calories in beverages; consider that a Grande White Hot Chocolate from Starbucks comes in at 490 calories!   For a typical woman who is trying to lose weight, that is almost half her daily Calorie Prescription. If you are a Timmy’s fan, avoid the Double Double, and opt for a bit of skim milk and some sweetener – you’ll save yourself over 200 calories!

5. Sauces on the side.

This goes for mayo, butter, dressings, and anything else that could be lathered on your food. If you’re not sure what comes on top of (or under) what you’ve ordered, ask, or just ask for any dressings/sauces on the side just in case.

Mustards are lower calorie (some are calorie free!) and don’t usually need to be omitted; soya sauce in moderation is low calorie (but high salt); balsamic vinegar is low calorie and tastes great on a salad.

Dr. Sue © 2011