Howl For Your Health - Fast Food Facts


  • At Chipotle, ban the three C’s: sour cream, cheese and chips. You’ll save up to 800 calories in your meal, and if you add fajita veggies you’re getting extra vitamin C.
  • Love McDonald’s? The hamburger clocks in with the lowest calorie count (250) while the Egg McMuffin works for breakfast at just 300 cals.
  • Craving something cool, sweet and low-cal this summer? Try substituting Greek yogurt for ice cream and top it with fresh fruit.
  • Cutting back on condiments can have serious health benefits – a single tablespoon of regular soy sauce has 400% of the recommended daily allowance of sodium.
  • Considering an appetizer? Watch out – you’d have to climb all 1665 stairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower three times over to work off the calories in a certain flowering fried onion specialty.
  • Let them eat…pie! Better for you than a bakery muffin, a fresh fruit pie (think blueberry, apple and cherry) offers vitamins and minerals you need.

What is fast food and why is it so popular?

Fast food is any food that is quick, convenient, and usually inexpensive. You can buy fast food just about anywhere that sells food and snacks. Vending machines, drive-thru restaurants, and 24 hour convenience stores are probably the most common places to find fast food. It's so popular because for under $5.00 you can usually get a filling meal. However, fast food is inexpensive because it is usually made with cheaper ingredients such as high fat meat, refined grains, and added sugar and fats, instead of nutritious foods such as lean meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

Is fast food bad?

There is no such thing as a "bad" food. All foods can fit into a healthy meal plan. It's true that fast food is usually high in fat, calories, cholesterol, and sodium, but eating fast food every once in a while is not going to cause you problems. If you eat too much fast food over a long period of time, though, it can lead to health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.

Is some fast food healthier than others?

Many fast food chains are revamping their menus to respond to customers comments. For example, some chains no longer serve foods with trans fat, and many have menu items that contain fruits and vegetables. If you are having fast food more than once a week, try to make healthier choices. Here are some tips:

  • Choose foods that are broiled over fried such as a grilled chicken sandwich instead of fried chicken or chicken nuggets.
  • Choose soups that are not cream based (For example: If the name of the soup includes the word cream, such as "Creamy Tomato Soup", avoid ordering it).
  • Have low-fat salad dressings instead of the full-fat kind.
  • Have a salad or soup instead of fries.
  • Use mustard or ketchup instead of mayonnaise.
  • Order smaller entrée portions. For example: instead of a large sub, try a small sub with a side salad or piece of fruit.
  • If you are getting a side, order a small, or kid sized portion. A large fry has approximately 500 calories and 25 grams of fat, while a small fry has about 60% less fat and calories (230 calories and 11 grams of fat).
  • When ordering a sub or sandwich, select leaner meats like turkey or grilled chicken instead of fried items such as burgers or steak, and cheese sandwiches.
  • Choose water, low-fat milk, or diet sodas instead of regular sodas, fruit drinks, milkshakes, or whole milk.
  • When ordering pizza, add veggies instead of meat, and get thin crust instead of deep dish.
  • If fruits and veggies are available, try to add them into your meal. For example, have lettuce and tomato on sandwiches or burgers.

Where can I find nutrition facts about fast food?

Most fast food and restaurant chains post their nutrition information online. Use a search engine to find the companies web page. There is usually a link to the nutrition section on the home page where you will find nutrition facts, including fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, calories, and more. Take a look at this information to help you make healthier choices when eating out.

Remember: Try to balance fast food with other nutritious foods throughout the day and make healthier choices whenever possible. There are many healthy food choices that are easily available, tasty, and don't cost very much that can be eaten on the go.