Making the most of that fast food meal

Checking food labels helps you make better choices when eating out.
Checking food labels helps you make better choices when eating out.

It can happen when you're traveling on business, running late for an appointment, or simply don't have time to make dinner.

You're facing fast food or no food.

Quick and easy

Speaking at the Nedbank Franchising Roadshow, Linda Reid, the chief commercial officer at Lightstone Explore, explained that South Africans spend over R2 billion a month on fast food. The amount each household spends depends on household income. According to a study done by Lightstone Explore, South African households, in high income brackets, spend between R1 400 to R1 500 a month on fast food. 

In our fast-paced lives we often don't really have time to make a proper meal and end up resorting to less-healthy fast food meals. 

Use these tips to make the most of such meals:

Healthier choices

Start by looking for the lowest calorie selections. Some restaurants list the calories and fat content on their menu board. If not, you can do a quick search of its website on your smartphone.

According to US Food and Drug Administration mandates, 2018 is the year that calorie labelling is required for restaurants and similar food establishments that have 20 or more locations. The goal is to make it easy to know what you're getting in every menu item.

Of course, you don't necessarily want to choose food by calories alone. Go for lean proteins, like grilled chicken or meat that you can see, not hidden under breading or tucked into a sealed wrap. Have it on a salad rather than a bun, and skip fatty and sugary dressings. Instead, drizzle on oil and vinegar, if available, or use mustard.

If you're limited to a sandwich, opt for a whole-wheat wrap, or eat only half the bread. Add lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables, but stay away from toppings like cheese and special sauces.

If there's no fruit available, fat-free yogurt or frozen yogurt is a healthier sweet ending.

Quick tips

Two caveats:

  • Don't get trapped into supersized portions or meals that include soda and chips; ask for low-fat milk or water instead.
  • Resist the temptation to order and eat in your car. Walk inside the establishment – you'll feel more satisfied if you take the time to enjoy your food

Image credit: iStock

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