8 Healthy Fast Food Alternatives

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Stop! Step away from that cheeseburger and gigantic soda. Let’s take a moment and check out the menu. Healthy fast food options exist, but you’ve got to order carefully. Here’s how.

We’ve all been there. You’re on the road. You are in dire need of something quick and satisfying. No, I’m not talking about the gas-station attendant with the heart tattoo and the dreamy eyes – although quick and satisfying is probably just what she would be. I mean food: fast food.

Fast food has a lot going for it. It’s inexpensive, it’s convenient, it’s fast, and it can be tasty. But it’s also packed with sugar, salt, fat, carbs and calories.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could enjoy the speed and convenience of fast food without sacrificing your commitment to eating well? If there were actually healthy fast food options?

Good news: Fast food can be good for you now and then. Informed, healthy choices are possible, especially if you do a bit of preparation in advance.

Here are 8 ways you can eat well while eating fast.

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  • Look For Vegan Options

Taco Bell can be a healthy fast food option.

The beans at Taco Bell and some other fast food restaurants are vegetarian – just ask before you order. This is a fantastic option for anyone trying to cut meat-based saturated fats from their diets.

Vegetable-based dishes are not always vegetarian, however, so it’s important to ask. McDonald’s French fries, for example, list “natural beef flavor” as an ingredient, and in many locations they’re cooked in the same deep fryers as fish and chicken.

Poor-quality meat produced in inhumane “concentrated animal feeding operations” is on the menu at many fast foods joints. I avoid that meat whenever I can. The more I learn about the conditions there, the more reluctant I am to eat conventionally raised meat anywhere.

Even if you avoid meat, you’re still going to get plenty of salt, fat and sugar at any fast-food joint. But at least you might get a small serving of vegetables.

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  • Get the Facts

Lots of fast-food restaurants are responding to customer demand for healthier food and allergen-free options. If you find yourself on the road or stuck at an airport without a meal plan, chances are you’ll be able to find a salad, wrap, fruit bowl or vegetarian entrée that offers a semblance of health and nutrition. You can find gluten-free breading, rolls or pizza crust in many of the top chain restaurants today as well.

But don’t stop there! If you really want to make an informed decision when it comes to healthy fast food, you’re going to have to think about all of the ingredients. In some locations restaurants are legally required to post nutrition facts and calorie counts. In others, you can consult the Web. In either case, a bit of research can help you make better choices.

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