McDonald's Ads vs The Real Thing
Fast Food Summer Menu Offenders
Warm weather (and the accompanying date with our bikini) generally makes it easy to keep up our healthy eating habits during summer. Seriously, what's simpler than throwing a lean protein on the grill along with some veggies, followed by a dessert of fresh berries and sorbet? But when we travel, all bets are off. When we're scrambling to get the car packed with kids, suitcases and beach gear or rushing to make a plane, train or ferry, who has time to prep healthy meals and snacks? Now, we all know fast food isn't exactly figure-friendly, and it can be downright frightening (especially after one McDonald's employee's tell-all on Reddit revealed way TMI), but savvy menu sleuths can spot some healthy, satisfying choices.
Here's how to look your best all beach season long and leave your sarong in your suitcase. Even if tonight's dinner is a pit stop with hungry, tired kids that have to eatrightthisveryminute:
Doritos Locos Tacos
.29 from Taco Bell
At 170 calories each, these glowing orange concoctions seem pretty harmless. But they're crazy high in both saturated fat and sodium. To do less damage when you're South of the Border, look for items labeled "fresca" or that fall under their "Drive-Thru Diet" menu.
Carolina BBQ Whopper
.49 from Burger King
The Carolina BBQ Whopper packs a real whopper to your waistline in the form of 42 grams of fat—nearly the suggested daily intake of fat for someone who consumes 2,000 calories a day. When in doubt, go with fish or chicken options that don't contain the words "crisp", "double" or "triple" in the title.
Pecan Chicken Salad Sandwich
.29 from Arby's
Even though this sandwich has the word "salad" in its name, it's packed with mayo—and fat, calories and sugar (in the form of high fructose corn syrup!). For a lighter lunch, try Arby's Classic Roast Beef sandwich. Limiting your sodium? Go for the roast chopped farmhouse salad—most of the sandwiches are loaded with salt.
Berry Almond Chicken Salad
.07 for a full at Wendy's
This angelic sounding salad is actually not too devilish in the calorie department, but it's simply sinful in terms of the sodium stats. In fact, it gives you almost your entire maximum daily intake of sodium recommended by the Center for Disease Control. But skip the fat free raspberry vinaigrette. You'll save 100 calories, 320 mg of sodium, and cut the total carb count in half. Think an undressed salad is too sad to eat? Ask for their half-sized portion.
Sweet Potato Fries
.09 for a small at Burger King
A side of fries are a fast food classic, but BK's new sweet potato fries aren't nearly as virtuous as a steamed sweet potato—in fact, they're almost as high in calories, and are higher in fat, than their original fried 'taters. But sweet potato fries are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium—just split the small size with a pal.
.99 at Burger King
Bacon makes everything better, right? We agree—but our cardiologist might not. Burger King's Caramel and Strawberry Sundaes, and even the Oreo Sundae, are much lower in calories, sugar and sodium than the Bacon Sundae. Save the latter for a once a summer super-treat. At 500 calories, it has more calories than a medium-sized meal, making it a definite diet debacle.
Mango Strawberry Frutista Freeze
.89 for a 16-oz. from Taco Bell
The sugar crash you'll get from the 59 grams of the sweet stuff in Taco Bell's Mango Strawberry Frutista Freeze is seriously scary. Even if you're not diabetic, consuming too much sugar has been linked to higher rates of obesity, heart disease, type II diabetes and stroke. And yes, 59 grams in any drink is totally too much.
Frappé Chocolate Chip
.29 for 12-oz. at McDonald's
Sometimes you have to pick the lesser of the two evils. Here, the Chocolate Chip Frappé is chock-full of calories and sugar, while the fruit smoothies and lemonade at Mickey D's will only sink any low-sugar goals. If you're at the Golden Arches and have a hankering for coffee, order an iced-coffee, and ask for extra skim milk for a low-fat protein and calcium boost.
Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
.65 at McDonald's
At 1090 calories, this big breakfast is just a big 'ol waist-widener. Yet right there next to it on the menu, you'll find a relatively virtuous version of oatmeal—which boasts five grams of fiber and zero trans fats. At just under 300 calories, this is a breakfast we can get on board with.
Bottom line? Don't freak out if you find yourself serving fast-food to your family. Go for a healthy option, or splurge and move on. As the saying goes, everything in moderation—even a bacon sundae.
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