Protecting Yourself from Sneaky Fast Food Calories

November 7, 2017 in Foodland, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

Does the holiday season increase the likelihood that you’ll grab fast food at mealtime? Even if you’re trying not to have fast food frequently, the holiday season can impact the best laid plans.

For some people, especially those new to watching their intake, a hundred or two extra calories don’t seem like a big deal. But I’ve noticed that if they think about the calories in terms of what it means to their body over time, it helps them to pay attention. For example, if you save 200 or 300 calories a day, and did that every single day all year long, that would translate to keeping off 20 or 30 pounds. That kind of significance will help you wisely turn the caution light on when entering the fast food establishment.

Here are some tips for saving calories:

  • If you go to a restaurant that gives you a choice of making a burrito style meal or a salad, realize that by choosing the salad option and skipping the tortilla you can save 300 to 360 calories depending upon the size of the white flour tortilla. White flour is not the healthiest choice anyway.
  • If the server on the other side of the window is giving you an extremely generous serving of rice and beans, ask them to just give you a half scoop.
  • You can save about 100 calories by choosing to skip either cheese (1/4 cup) or sour cream. Again, these two choices are both sources of high saturated fat (which you may be striving to limit for your heart’s benefit).
  • If you decide to make it a salad and skip the rice, that will be a 200 calorie saving.
  • There’s lots of ways to save calories on dressing; including dipping your fork in a little cup served on the side – possibly using half of the cup; choosing a salsa-style or vinaigrette dressing; ordering “light dressing” and passing on rich creamy dressings.
  • If the meal already has some starchy food like tortilla, bread, rice, potatoes, consider skipping the chip offering. Chips don’t seem like a big deal; but frequently one packet is 200 calories.
  • If you have a choice, choose the whole grain bread or corn tortilla.
  • Some Chinese style fast food restaurants now have brown rice – choose brown rice instead of either fried rice or white rice.
  • Another way to reduce rice consumption is to replace part of it with vegetables. Some Chinese style fast food restaurants allow this substitution.
  • Be careful with crispy options. Often crispy translates into breaded and fried, before it is covered with sugar packed sauce.
  • I generally don’t even consider pizza because it’s too difficult to manage the calories of fast food pizza. But if that’s what available and offered; look at each piece and think about the equivalent amount of bread each slice would be. Bread is often about 110 calories a slice for an ordinary old-fashioned slice. Then look at the cheese; frequently it’s an easy 100 to 150 calories for a fairly moderate slice of pizza. A slice of a fourteen-inch pizza, divided into eight slices is about 285 to 350 calories. Of course, extra cheese, sausage, pepperoni and so on can drive the calories up even further.
  • If you do decide on pizza, if possible, have a serving of salad with your pizza. It enables you to decrease the overall calories of the meal by replacing a slice with salad. Take some pizza home or give to a friend.
  • Sometime you get a choice to choose apple slices or fruit cup instead of chips or fries. Yeah!
  • Watch the calories in the drinks. Some of them pack a whopping 500 or 600 calories. Just moving from a large serving to a small, can save 300 to 400 calories. Choosing water, diet or zero can save even more.

The holiday season is challenging enough. Grabbing a quick lunch doesn’t even seem to be part of the parties and buffets; but don’t let those calories sneak up on you. Watch for the flashing yellow caution lights in your mind’s eye.