I have a 5 mile route I run outside my apartment that goes essentially to my place of employment and back to the apartment (yes, I’m lucky enough to live very close to my job). In that small duration I run or drive past no less than 15 restaurants – most of which are fast food. Logistically, this is a crap ton of greasy food crammed into a pretty small vicinity. This also just happens to smell absolutely delicious to a poor unsuspecting runner just trying to get some miles in.
Now we’ve got the bigwigs of course, McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, Arby’s & Wendy’s, but then there are the smaller albiet just as tempting counterparts: Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Papa Johns, Einstein Brothers, Waffle House, Cracker Barrel. It’s a poo poo platter of all the reasons why our nation is overweight.
I shall not knock these establishments though, as due to my proximity I have been known to frequent them on occasion. And by occasion, I mean typically every work day.
Now her in lies the paradox as I am trying oh-so-hard (especially as bikini season is upon us) to not eat like a bear prepping for hibernation.This requires preparation. First – researching calories. It’s tedious, I unless you go to Panera which has their calories listed on their menu board (kudos to them!) you really have no idea what you are eating and that ‘healthy’ salad smothered in fried chicken and ranch is going to be the equivalent to three meals in one. Second – having the willpower to commit to a certain menu item and overlook all the other tasty delights (I’m looking at you Frosty).
Taking note from the pages of “Eat This Not That”, here is a list of my tasty fast food items that won’t completely negate your diet accomplishments:
Wendy’s: Berry Almond Chicken Salad
This is my favorite thing. I tell you, it’s good stuff. Warm chicken, grated cheese, fresh berries make this a surprisingly filling lunch. I usually get the full size because I want to remain full throughout the day and the half just doesn’t cut it. I also only one packet of the raspberry vinaigrette dressing and half of the bag of almonds they throw in. This knocks the calories down to only 370. Wahoo!
Burger King: Veggie Burger with apple slices and a side salad
This one gets a bit tricky. First off, avoid mayo at all costs. I despise mayonnaise so lucky for me this isn’t much of an issue, but that junk adds so many calories is ridiculous. Order the burger without mayo and its at about 320 calories, add in the apple slices and salad (no dressing! All their dressings are caloric bombs – byod to work and save the calories for something way better like a piece of chocolate) and the whole meal is at 420. Not too shabby.
McDonald’s: Honey Mustard Grilled Snack-wrap & Fruit & Yogurt Parfait or a cheeseburger with apple slices and a side salad (notice a trend here?)
These snack-wraps are a great little meal for a small price and not too many calories – just be sure to stick with grilled. If you take the crispy route, it tacks on about 100 more calories. Boo on that. Snack-wraps are about 250 and the parfaits are about 150 bringing you to 400 calories. Unfortunately, sometimes You just crave a McDonald’s cheeseburger and at 300 calories, it could be worse. Tack on some apple slices (15 calories) and a side salad (20 calories – don’t forget my dressing note above)and you’ll still be under 400 calories. Just please have the willpower to say no to the fries – I know it sucks but it’s better this way.
I can’t go to Arby’s. The only thing I ever want from there is a roast beef sandwich, curly fries, and a Jamocha shake which adds up to 1190 calories (and that’s for a small fries & shake). 1190 calories is around what I should be eating for THE DAY so I avoid the Arby’s at all costs.
Taco Bell: Fresco Soft Shell Chicken Tacos
These tacos are really good and only (150 calories each), but unfortunately Taco Bell offers limited sides that are of nutritional worth so I don’t frequent the place for lunch – After a few cocktails late at night though, that’s a different story…Yum.
Chick-Fil-A: Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich, side salad, and a fruit cup OR Chargrilled and fruit salad w/ light Italian Dressing and a Ice Dream Cone
A southern staple, Chick-Fil-A makes a mean chicken sandwich. Unfortunately said sandwich is fried and although it is mighty delicious, can’t compete calorie-wise with its char-grilled counterpart. At 290 calories, you can add a side and fruit salad to it and be at 410. Their Char-grilled Fruit Salad w/ dressing comes in at 245 which is so reasonable that there’s no reason not to treat yourself to an ice cream cone (you know I love this stuff) for 170 calories.
We all get it…the 3 o’clock slump. Caffeine is in order! To Starbucks I head! I’ve found two drinks that I love, that I try not to veer from as Starbucks can have some pretty decadent beverages. A skinny (skinny means non-fat milk, no whip creamed, and sugar free syrup if applicable) Cinnamon Dolce Latte (120) or Caramel Macchiato (100). Both are delicious without being terrible for you.
Fast food is a convenience for the general population. It’s convenient and relatively inexpensive, and for me in particular, often the only option if I’m in a hurry. Thankfully there are a few options that won’t leave you feeling like a sloth.
Happy Friday all! Enjoy the weekend!