The Smartest Fast-food Meals

In today's health-conscious world, fast food is one indulgence that is off the table for dieters. However, there are times when a trip through the drive-through becomes necessary; whether in a hurry or on vacation. So what should the savvy dieter order from the fast-food menu? What are the smart choices out there for those watching their calories?


Fortunately, fast-food outlets are keeping up with current health food trends and have begun to offer more diet-friendly options. Here are some of the healthier alternatives when you are faced with no other choice but to spin your wheels through the drive-through.


If you must eat breakfast on the road, avoid those all-in-one breakfast sandwiches. Order a breakfast wrap, or better yet, an English muffin with real butter, not trans-fatty margarine. Scrambled eggs are also a good option as they provide you with protein. The more salt- and fat-laden meats and cheeses you choose, the more unhealthy your breakfast becomes.

Healthy Lunch and Dinner Options

We all remember how our parents drilled into us the importance of eating our veggies. What we didn't want to admit to is that they were right. But what you top your salad with makes a difference in terms of caloric intake. Be sure to use a vinaigrette dressing rather than a creamy one, and don't add in too much meat and cheese.

If you're in the mood for something a little more sandwichy that you can eat with one hand, order a wrap. Just make sure the wrap is made with grilled rather than deep-fried meat, and that it doesn't have too much creamy sauce and cheese.


Avoid Meal Deals

If you pay attention, you'll notice the menus in fast-food restaurants are geared toward those all-inclusive "meal deals" which typically include a sandwich, drink and fries. Avoid these at all costs, especially the super-sized options. Instead, order a chicken or fish sandwich (or a wrap or salad); fruit cup or veggies; and water, milk, or ice tea.

Avoid Fatty Deep-Fried Foods Recently, media attention has been placed on unhealthy trans fats used by fast-food chains to cook such calorie-busting treats as French fries, hash browns and fried cheese balls. While many chains have switched to non trans-fat oils, these foods still add plenty of calories and saturated fats to your diet. Try carrot sticks or whole baked potatoes as a healthy alternative.

Avoid Sodas and Shakes

A large (32 oz.) Coca-Cola will set you back a little over 310 calories with 20 milligrams of sodium and 86 grams of carbohydrates from sugar. That's more calories than a regular four-ounce McDonald's cheeseburger. Instead, order milk, juice, ice tea, or water. And if you're in the mood for a shake, consider a smoothie or slushy (real fruit is preferable).


Healthy Dessert Options

Order fruits for dessert rather than ice cream, cookies, or pies. Order yogurt when possible; the active live cultures in yogurt are very healthy and they introduce "friendly" bacteria into your intestinal tract.

An occasional meal at a fast-food restaurant doesn't have to be daunting for dieters. So long as you focus on healthy alternatives, the impact on your current diet plan should be minimal.