Making Fast Food Healthier

The average American eats outside of their home 4-6 times a week with fast food restaurants being their preference over sit down restaurants. Fast food for many Americans is basically an essential part of their overall food intake. When we are in a hurry, or just want something to eat we reach out to our favorite fast food chain due to its convenience. It is also, quick, tasty and the variety is endless. All those sound great, but the drawback is that many times the foods we choose from fast food places come loaded with high amounts of calories, unhealthy fats, and excessive amounts of sugar and sodium. Going out to eat at fast food restaurants on such a regular basis can be detrimental to our health and goals. It is very difficult to eat a well-balanced and healthy meal when we go out. It definitely is a challenge to eat healthy, but there are things that we can try to do in order to clean it up just a bit and make it healthier. Try some of these tips when going out to fast food restaurants:

Keep portion sizes small: For example at a burger joint, choose a burger with only one beef patty instead of the double or triple patty option. This can save you anywhere between 200-400 calories, and 15-30 grams of fat. Do the same for the slice of cheese. If you really want cheese on the burger, limit it to only one slice.

Choose healthier sides: Many fast foods now offer healthier sides such as salads, baked potatoes, or fruit bowls. Choose these instead of the large French fries.

Skip on adding bacon to your order: Many times, we add bacon for extra flavor, although very tasty, it is high in calories and fat with very little nutrients.

Watch out for excessive sodium: The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 2,300 mg a day should be consumed, that measures out to be around 1 teaspoon. When eating out, we can easily exceed 1 teaspoon of salt. To help reduce the amount of sodium, ask for your food with no salt, or lightly salted (fries, burgers, etc.…)

When eating out, order grilled or roasted meats: Try to avoid fried and breaded items as these are loaded with unhealthy fats and excess calories (breaded fish, crispy chicken, fried chicken).

Be careful with what you drink: Avoiding soda, sweet tea, and shakes when you go out to eat can save you from a lot of sugar and calories. Simply switching to water can help keep those hidden calories away while keeping you hydrated and your thirst quenched.



Campus Tips:

The above tips can easily be implemented here at any one of our 21 dining locations on campus to help make eating on the go healthier.

For more information visit:

Fast Food and Healthy Eating 

Healthy Options at Common Fast-Food Restaurants 

Ricardo Blanco, Student Assistant & Hospitality Dietitian Mindy Diller, MS, RDN, LD 


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