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Healthy Fast-food Choices

Posted on September 23, 2022 | No Comments on Healthy Fast-food Choices

McDonald’s and Jollibee seem to be a pair… When one sees McDonald’s in a corner street, not far from it is a Jollibee outlet. Each is endorsed by well known celebrities and both have a social dimension of helping the less privileged children.

Such is the competition and proliferation of these 2 giant Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) or simply known as fast-food restaurants.They are only two of so many QSRs which give consumers so much convenience, but challenge the health-conscious to make better food choices.

KFC, Kenny Rogers, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Shakey’s, CPK, Chili’s, Don Henrico’s,Taco Bell,Wendy’s, Sbarro, Hot Shots, Chowking, Dimsum and Dumpling, Mini Stop, 7-11, Bo’s, Starbucks, Seattle’s Best…The list is endless. Mahan and Stump (2004) describes fast food as food from vending machines, self-service restaurants, convenience groceries and franchised restaurants…And they are all around us!

The popularity of fast food never wanes. It is affordable, easily accessible, provides fast service, good portion sizes, regular promos and freebies, and an “add on” attraction of plastic toys and playgrounds for the kids. Fast foods have their perks, but they also have their downside. Regularly eating in these outlets of basically the same food items the whole day deprives one of essential micronutrients. The principles of variety, balance and moderation in food choices are forgotten.

Obese and overweight patients have been advised by doctors and nutritionists to refrain from eating fast food because it is high in fat, sugar, sodium and calories with very little fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C.

Healthy Choices
So, is it possible to make healthy choices in these restaurants? Yes, it is possible. It is a conscious effort of choosing wisely from what they offer — the same conscious effort of choosing food wisely when one is at parties, fiestas, fine dining restaurants and hotels. The following guidelines are helpful reminders in making healthy food choices.

  • Keep in mind Portion Control. Refrain from the “upsizing or super-sizing” offers.
  • Use dressings, sauces, dips and gravy sparingly. The thermos of gravy should be kept out of sight and just be happy with the “almost two tablespoons of gravy” in small containers given to customers.
  • Drink water instead of soft drinks or sugar laden juices. Avoid bottomless drinks.
  • Include green salad with fat-free dressing or vinegar dressing.
  • Substitute white bread with whole wheat bread.
  • Choose fresh fruits for desserts instead of the usual cakes.
  • Refuse the “Would you like to add…” suggestions from service crews. Stick to your choice, otherwise your value meal wouldn’t be very valuable after all to your pocket and most especially to your health.
  • Check the menu and find alternatives — low fat, low calorie fare — instead of the usual ones. Restaurants have healthier options with icons beside the dish.

Healthy Choices for Children
The food habits or eating pattern of children is a replica of their parents, grandparents, yayas or whoever takes care of them. However, the challenging task of parents providing healthy meals become more difficult because of the fast food everywhere and the sad realization that working mothers have very little time to plan and cook for their family. Children love to eat out and parents can’t refuse, most of the time, where their kids like to eat.

When you do your leisurely walk in malls or supermarkets, check out the many kids that are so “cute” but plump, heavy, large, flabby…They are overweight or obese. Parents sometimes feel proud to say that the son borrows the belt of the father, or have the same waistline, or when the mother’s blouse was borrowed by the eight-year-old daughter. Take heed! Parents and caregivers need to take more responsibility in providing good nutrition for children. One good way is to ask the help of the pediatrician or nutritionist to talk to the child. More likely they will listen because these professionals are figures of authority whose words are THE words, just like their teachers in school.

The following are important reminders when bringing childen to fast-food outlets:

  • Substitute soft drinks with healthier options like water or unsweetened juice.
  • Choose spaghetti with tomato sauce than with white sauce.
  • Avoid fries as side dish, plain boiled corn is better.
  • Choose roast or baked chicken than fried ones.
  • Choose thin crust pizza with garlic and cheese than the thick crust loaded with pepperoni, bacon and sausages.

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