A week ago Sunday I was on a plane flying over the Caribbean and watching the Super Bowl. When Subway’s commercial for the Fritos Chicken Enchilada sub came on I almost jumped out of my seat and screamed, “That is not a healthy sandwich!” Now, Subway didn’t claim it was healthy in their commercial but they didn’t have to. All of their other adds tout how healthy and fit their meals are, so why wouldn’t the average consumer believe the Fritos sandwich was a healthy choice? It certainly doesn’t help having a bunch of athletes on the commercial backing the new sandwich. If they think its good, perhaps I can become an Olympic athlete too! This six inch sandwich packs 580 calories and 26 grams of fat along with 1170 grams of sodium, a far cry from a healthy lunch!
That had me thinking of how so many people tell me that they would like to eat healthy but they don’t have time. I get it, you pick the kids up from school, take them to soccer practice, ballet, chess, piano, swimming lessons, and then head home. There isn’t time for dinner and often you have to swing through the drive thru just to get food into their mouths. I get it. We certainly did it from time to time growing up too. But you can’t place all of the blame on fast food. You can place a large part of the blame on fast food and I certainly recommend steering clear of it. But let’s take a look at a few of the top fast food restaurants and some options that would help you make a better choice for those times you have to swing through the drive thru.
Keep in mind that if you do decide to go through the drive thru you are going to consume A LOT more sodium than you would with just about any meal you would cook at home. However, if you run or exercise and sweat heavily this shouldn’t be a huge problem on an occasional basis, especially if you have a healthy heart and kidneys. All of this nutrition information can be found on each restaurant’s website.
Subway has 7 sandwiches on their Fresh Fit menu. Stick to these when you order and you will keep your diet on track. Try their spicy brown mustard for a tasty kick to your sandwiches. Load up on all of the healthy veggies to pack in the nutrition. A few of my favorites from the list are:
Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich 320 calories 5 grams of fat 610mg sodium
Roast Beef Sandwich 320 calories 5 grams of fat 660mg sodium
Turkey Breast Sandwich 280 calories 3.5 grams of fat 670mg sodium
One thing I have noticed on just about any fast food menu is to stay away from chicken. Pretty much any chicken sandwich has far more fat and calories than most of the burgers. You may see chicken and think healthy but as a general rule when you walk into a fast food restaurant, the smallest burger on the menu likely has some of the least fat and fewest calories. There is, however, a grilled chicken version on this menu that does fit the bill.
Hamburger 250 calories 9 grams of fat 480mg sodium
Cheeseburger 300 calories 12 grams of fat 680mg sodium
Grilled Chicken Classic 350 calories 9 grams of fat 820mg sodium
Filet-O-Fish 390 calories 19 grams of fat 590mg sodium
Note: Any of the grilled chicken snack wraps are also a good option to order from the menu
Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken 290 calories 8 grams of fat 650mg sodium
Kids Order of Fries 100 calories 5 grams of fat 70mg sodium (if you really need to have it your way!)
Again on this menu your best bet is to order a small hamburger. A bit of a surprise with this one is that every single salad is so high in fat content and so high in sodium that I cannot recommend a single one of them. I can’t believe I am saying you are better off having a burger than a salad but it is true!
Whopper Jr. 300 calories 16 grams of fat 460mg sodium
Burger 230 calories 9 grams of fat 460mg sodium
Tender Grill Chicken 410 calories 16 grams of fat 830mg sodium
Veggie Burger 390 calories 16 grams of fat 900 mg sodium
I have always been a fan of roast beef sandwiches from here. Just a sandwich by itself with a touch of horsey sauce and you have a complete meal. Steer clear of their market sandwiches. They are laden in calories and fat grams!
Classic Roast Beef Sandwich 360 calories 14 grams of fat 970mg sodium
Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad 230 calories 13 grams of fat 780mg sodium
Jr. Chicken Sandwich 310 calories 15 grams of fat 680mg sodium
You can have a salad and a baked potato or a baked potato and chili and have yourself a complete meal here. Just don’t pile all the extras on the potato!
Apple Pecan Chicken Salad 350 calories 11 grams of fat 970mg sodium
Baked Potato 270 calories 0 grams of fat 25mg sodium
Small Chili 180 calories 5 grams of fat 790mg sodium
4 piece Nuggets 180 calories 12 grams of fat 350mg sodium
Jr. Burger 250 calories 10 grams of fat 600mg sodium
Ultimate Grilled Chicken 370 calories 7 grams of fat 880mg sodium
Moral of the story, there are some healthier options out there. To me the key to eating fast food is to not get greedy. Recognize that if you are going to eat at a fast food restaurant you need to control your portions. That might mean just the sandwich and not the fries. If you really want the fries order the kids version. Or even order yourself a happy meal to keep your portion sizes down and still feel like you are eating a “complete” meal.
When it comes to fries I try to decide if they are worth it. If I order them once and they are delicious I go for it the next time. More often than not I find that the place I ordered them at just doesn’t cut it. So I stop eating them once I realize they are just ok and remember not to order fries from that place again. The key for me is to be mindful with my first few bites. Do they really taste good or am I just shoving them in my mouth?
If you want the bigger sandwich option do what I do and consider going topless. By taking the top bun off of course!
As for me, my on the go fast food guilty pleasure if Jimmy John’s. My husband and I have gone for over an hour skipping exit after exit waiting for a Jimmy John’s to come along. What I love most is that you can turn any of their sandwiches into an “unwich” and they will forego the bread and wrap your fixings in lettuce. By choosing an already healthy sandwich option you can slice the calories even more with this option. Swap the mayo for mustard and you have a delicious and pretty healthy lunch or dinner on the go.
Hopefully some of these ideas will help you the next time you are forced to swing through the drive thru on your way home.