When Moses was in the desert en route to pick up the 10 Commandments, manna was the only fast food. Today, about 245 big U.S. chain restaurants are vying for your eating dollars. The Rand Corporation recently reviewed 36,923 menu entrees from all these fast food chains and found that despite Subway's and others' efforts to provide healthy options, 96 percent of them exceed daily limit recommendations for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat, both for adults and children. This isn't even addressing the issues related to trans fats and too much sugar.
Every day, 1 in 4 Americans visits a fast food restaurant. McDonald's alone feeds nearly 50 million people a day, more than the population of Spain. According to a recent survey by the Technomic food research firm, although 47 percent of consumers want more healthy restaurant options, only 23 percent actually order healthy food when dining out. The reason -- down deep they already know it isn't healthy.
When you are in the mood for fast food, here are my 10 fast food commandments to to help you control weight.
1. Drink Water
Sodas, shakes, floats and specialty drinks are loaded with calories. And the huge glasses don't help. The average "kid drink" has 430 calories and large sodas have up to 500 calories.
2. Choose Lean Meats, Not Processed or Fatty Treats
Eat whole foods that can be identified like sliced turkey, beef or ham and skip the sausage or bacon because they contain fillers, nitrates, and salt.
3. Ask for Whole Wheat or Multigrain Bread
If you select a sandwich, sub or pizza, ask for whole wheat or multigrain bread, buns or crust. It has a lower glycemic index.
4. Skip "Extras" and Appetizers
Avoid the extra sauce, extra patty or the slice of cheese to subtract calories. Even asking for no butter on the bun will save you 100 calories. The average fast food appetizer has 813 calories compared with 674 average calories per serving for entrée.
5. Thick-Crust Pizza Pie Goes to Your Thigh
The thicker the crust, the higher the calorie count. And processed meats like pepperoni and fatty toppings add calories. I love putting eggplant, mushrooms, peppers or spinach on top of my pizza. And thin crust is key.
6. No "Secret Sauce" For You!
Old standards like ketchup and mustard tend to have the fewest calories. Salsa can also be a healthy condiment, full of lycopenes from the tomatoes as well as vitamins A and C.
7. "Fried" Rhymes With "Died"
Whenever the option exists, have your chicken or meat grilled. You'll get fewer calories and less fat, and it's easier to digest. Fried foods in general also contribute to heart disease.
8. Just 'Cause They Serve It Doesn't Mean You Have to Eat It
A meat serving is about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand; about three ounces. So pass on the 12-ounce portions, or only eat half and take half home. I typically split a meal with my wife.
9. Take Your Coffee With Skim Milk
Ever hear of the latte factor? It refers to the money you save over a year if you just cut out your daily latte. But the same could be said of the inches you could shave by avoiding these syrupy drinks. If you must go for the latte, ask for sugar-free, and in either case, saying no to the whip cream will save you 70 calories and 7 grams of fat.
10. Invoke the Tenet of Chewdaism
I once heard the late Yogi Bhajan say, "Chew your food. There are no teeth in your stomach." And that's exactly what "Chewdaism" is all about: chewing your food 50 to 100 times before swallowing it. It takes about 30 to 60 seconds per bite. That's good, because it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to "tell" your brain you are full. Chewing your food allows you to extract more nutrition out of your food and allows you to get full eating less.
Click here for a FREE healthy recipe from my latest cookbook.
Click below for my Junk Food music video that originally appeared on the New York Emmy Award nominated TV series Lunch NYC.
For more by Mache Seibel, MD, click here.
For more on diet and nutrition, click here.