Healthy On The Go! Fast Food Alternatives

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Thanks to apps like Pinterest and Instagram, being a “foodie” has become trendy; with millions of diners whipping out their cell phones and doing their best to take gorgeous shots of their latest meal.

As a whole this has been a positive (albeit annoying) movement, with more Americans proudly taking note of what they put in their bodies; opting for colorful organic vegetables and trips to farmers markets – in part so they can share their healthy cargo with all their followers.

“Eating Clean” is fashionable these days. And given this country’s battle with obesity, that’s a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the byproduct of this shift in food culture is that many of us have become culinary snobs; looking down on those who lean towards less glamorous dining experiences.

“I can’t believe they’re going to McDonalds”

“Why is she taking her kids to the drive thru?”

“How can anyone eat that garbage?”

These are sentiments a lot of us make without realizing how blatantly classist they are. While kale, quinoa and coconut water might be staples on your shopping list – for many low income families fast food is a lot more cost effective than a trip to Whole Foods. Not to mention the fact that there are some parts of the nation that have become food deserts altogether.

According to Wikipedia a food desert is

..a geographic area where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile.[1] Food deserts usually exist in rural areas and low-income communities. Some research links them to diet-related health problems in affected populations.[2] Food deserts are sometimes associated with supermarket shortages and food security.

Whether you find yourself living in a food desert or are simply on a restricted grocery budget, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Below we’ve compiled a list of some nutritiously sound fast food alternatives from popular eateries.

McDonald’s

Meal One: Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette plus Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait; 375 calories, 9.5g fat

Meal Two: Grilled Honey Mustard Snack Wrap plus small french fries; 480 calories, 19g fat

Meal Three: Fruit and Maple Oatmeal; 290 calories, 4g fat

Meal Four: Egg White Delight McMuffin plus apple slices; 265 calories, 8g fat

Kid’s Meal: Put together a healthy alternative for the little ones with four chicken McNuggets, plus apple slices and low fat milk; 395 calories, 20.5g fat.

Tips for making healthier choices no matter where you go:

  • Skip the fries and get a salad, fruit or veggies as a side order
  • Get your burger without the bun
  • Hold the mayonnaise and reach for low-calorie condiments like mustard
  • Go easy on special sauces and always get your dressing on the side.
  • Say no to bacon, cheese, onion rings, sour cream and other heavy toppings.
  • Don’t drink your calories! Avoid sodas and milkshakes altogether.
  • Portion control – if the servings are huge, immediately set aside half to take home.
  • Look at the Kids Menu. There are surprisingly healthy options in these sections.

While being mindful at the drive-thru takes some getting used to, eating healthy “on the go” isn’t impossible. Your waistline and your budget will both be better off.

This post originally appeared at The Grio and is sponsored by McDonalds.

image: Getty