Fast Food Salads: Making Smart and Healthy Choices

Image for fast food salads While most people think that the salads offered at fast food restaurants are healthy, nutritious choices, the truth may be quite different. Fast food salads vary widely in the nutrition category. While some salads are reasonable choices, some fast food restaurants soup up their salads with a variety of less-healthy, fat- and sodium-laden items, such as fried chicken, creamy full-fat dressings, sour cream, and lots of cheese, bacon, fried croutons, and taco chips or shells. Less prevalent or completely absent are the nutritious, high-fiber salad items such as beans, chick peas, and a wide variety of fresh vegetables. But with a busy work schedule, family responsibilities, and the chaos of life in general, sometimes fast food restaurants are the only option. So, what is a hungry person to do? Here is some food for thought the next time you are at the drive-thru ready to order a fast food salad:

Beware of Deceptive Information

While all of the fast food restaurants have nutritional information available on all of their menu offerings, some of the information can be a bit misleading. For example, some of the information only gives nutritional statistics on the actual salad, leaving off the information about dressing, croutons, cheese, or other packets of ingredients that are included with your salad. Make sure you read the information carefully.

Remember: An Iceberg Sank the Titanic

Choose more complex greens than plain old iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is calorie-free, but it is also nearly nutrition- and fiber-free. Worst of all, it is essentially flavor-free, leading you down the path to temptation by encouraging you to add more flavorful ingredients that increase your fat, sodium, and calorie intake.

Paint With a Broad Palette of Color

The greater the variety of colors in the vegetables in your salad, the greater the variety of nutrients. Go for a wide variety of greens, which include different types of lettuces, spinach, and peppers. Enhance the greens with oranges from carrots, and reds from tomatoes or peppers.

Skip the Meat

Try ordering your salad without meat. Or, if you really want the meat, choose to have it grilled rather than fried, and consider eating only half of what is included with your salad. Consider lean meats, such as chicken or turkey over steak. Substitute beans or legumes for meat. The added fiber will help make you feel more full.

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