As spring time arrives, there are many busy schedules with work, school activities, children’s sports schedules and other countless activities that can leave families with minimal time for sit down meals. This ultimately can affect food choices and family meal time. Ideally, it is healthiest to avoid the fast food venue. In the event you need a “quick fix” for a family meal, use these strategies to make smart choices at the drive at the drive through or counter.
Once In A While
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests keeping trips to fast food restaurants as treats, rather than routine meals. If you keep your family’s usual diet well-balanced and low in fat, a occassional fast food trip won’t hurt you. On the other hand, frequent consumption of high fat foods is unhealthy for adults and children.
A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods will benefit your family’s overall health, setting a standard for healthy eating habits. Review what your family eats over the course of the whole day, rather than the meal itself. If your dinner will be at a fast food venue, eat foods throughout the day are lower in fat, calories and sodium to compensate for excesses you get in a fast food meal.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that whenever your family dines out, you need to pay attention to food portion and remember that drinks contain calories, too. Try some of these tips :
- Watch portion sizes. Do your really need to upgrade and get the supersized or “combo” meals. 20 years ago a portion of french fries in an average fast food restaurant consisted of about 20 fries, weighed 2.
- Choose lean meats, like turkey breast and thin sliced roast beef from the deli.
- Steer away from fried foods. If your family can’t resist them, order only a small serving or share an order.
- Save empty calories from soda and sweet tea.
- Choose grilled or broiled chicken on a whole grain bread with low-fat condiments like mustard, ketchup, salsa, or low-fat mayonnaise if it’s available.
Written by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.
Source: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Fact Sheet FS1091, Eating Together- Eating Well: Fast Food.. Can It Be Healthy In A Pinch?