What Are the Healthiest and Unhealthiest Fast Food Choices?
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What Are the Healthiest and Unhealthiest Fast Food Choices?

Although cooking for yourself with natural and healthful ingredients is ideal, it is not always an option when you are on the go.  I, as a chef, do not ever recommend fast food as a first or even second choice for nourishment.  As a last resort, however, relative healthfulness of the fast food choices is something to consider.

Most folks have heard comedians joke about folks ordering "gigantisized" triple beef burgers with a pound of fries.  The punchline here is that the customer chooses a diet cola as his 64 ounce drink choice.  I've actually heard a diabetic pal of mine make the argument that sometimes people can't have sugar but don't mind high caloric and fat contents.  Unfortunately, everything down to the salads in most fast food establishments contains one form of sugar or another.  I guess the joke is on us.

So what are the healthiest choices at any given fast food chain?  The best would probably be a salad with a non-mayo based dressing, or better yet, a fat free one.  Adding grilled chicken to it is O.K., but one trick I've found is that you can order a plain burger without the bun and cut it into your salad.  Believe it or not, ground beef has fewer calories and less fat per ounce than chicken!  If greens aren't substantial enough for you, then choose a burger with or without cheese.  Even with the cheese, it will have fewer calories than a fried, excuse me, "crispy" chicken sandwich.  If you must have a side with the sandwich, I recommend a salad o, if offered, a baked potato.  One fast food chain's french fries have so many preservatives that they are actually chemically classified as a pesticide!  Can you guess which one?

What are the worst choices?  Chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches, and anything covered in a special sauce.  The reason for the chicken products being bad is explained above.  The sauced sandwiches, well, any sauce will usually double the fat and caloric content of anything.  Also, many of the sauces in these places can survive unrefrigerated for at least one year.  That means they are loaded with preservatives.  The most popular preservative is high fructose corn syrup, which despite the corn refiners association's claims of it being harmless, is converted directly to fat in most of our bodies.

So my recommendation is to wake up a bit earlier before work and pack yourself a lunch to avoid malnourishment altogether.  It will save you money and help the environment by not producing so much garbage.  I've read that retro lunchboxes are all the rage these days!  Don't forget to pack an apple.

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Comments (3)

Outstanding! I dislike fast food more than I can express. When on a road trip, stopping to eat often includes some brand of McStop - but I avoid it as much as possible. As with anything, having a burger and fries once in a great while is no big deal, but many people (especially living hurried, busy lives) live on fast food, which is just appalling to me.


I couldn't agree more. You should be on the lookout for all-natural quick service restaurants who are springing up all over the U.S. lately. One such place is Tricky Fish in Charleston, WV. They have food ready in 10 minutes or so and everything is free range ond organic homemade goodness!! I eat there at least once per week when I can. Gotta support the local efforts to change the nation's health issue!


Very cool article!! I am a pathetic fast food lover