02/17/2012 05:25 pm ET Updated Apr 18, 2012

Fast Food the Healthy Way: A Guide

Let's be real, everyone loves fast food. (Whether or not you want to admit it, but there's something about French fries that really gets people going.)

As a nutritionist, it's hard for me to approve calorie-laden burgers, milkshakes or double decker bacon-filled ranch-dressing-topped nutritional nightmares. They're not providing a ton of good nutrients, and instead are passing along sugar, fat and carbohydrates that will leave you feeling sluggish in its place.

That being said, you have to live your life. That's the point of my new book, Bread is the Devil -- it's your life, not your diet, that takes precedence. So I never want you to eliminate things you love completely. Why not? That will not only make you want those foods MORE, but it's unrealistic. You're not going to go the rest of your life without eating a hamburger. (Even I like one occasionally.)

Maybe you just really want a little fast-food treat, or you're on the road and have no choice.

Here are some healthy options for some of the most popular chains. You never have to ban entire restaurants or types of food from your life. That only leads to wanting those foods more!

Small indulgences like the ones I've chosen below can get you far:


1.) Fruit and yogurt parfait -- 160 calories
2.) Caesar salad with grilled chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette -- 260 calories

Taco Bell

1.) Grilled steak soft taco (Fresco) -- 150 calories
2.) Gordita supreme, chicken -- 270 calories

Burger King

1.) Tender grilled chicken garden salad with Ken's fat-free ranch dressing -- 290 calories
2.) Small burger with a bun (260 calories). This counts as one angel carb. (What's an angel carb? A good carb, because some bread is bad, but not all of it!)

Pizza Hut

1.) Two slices of a 12-inch pizza, -- 300 calories, 2 angel carbs.

It is possible to eat fast food (very occasionally) and still keep it healthy. These are splurges, but not outrageous ones. No matter your lifestyle, job scenario or wallet, you can eat well. Read more strategies in my new book, Bread is the Devil.

For more by Heather Bauer, RD, CDN, click here.

For more on diet and nutrition, click here.