With so much to do around the holidays, we often find ourselves eating what’s available at arm’s reach. This time of year especially that can mean sweets and special holiday treats. During a busy shopping trip it’s also far more convenient to drive through and grab some fast food than it is to pack something healthy or sit down at a restaurant that offers food that’s good for you. But in HLTH, authors Jeffrey S. Nevid and Spencer A. Rathus tell us that it is possible to make healthy choices when grabbing something from a fast food restaurant, and they provide recommendations to put into action when you’re back on campus.

Tips for healthy fast food choices:

  • Sometimes the burger is the better choice: Surprisingly, the basic hamburger at most fast food chains can be among the options lowest in fat and calories. It’s a smaller portion, and the chicken and fish they offer might be fried — making them poor choices for the health-conscious eater. If they have a grilled chicken option, that is one of your healthiest options.
  • Skip the sauces: By asking them to leave off the mayo or other additional sauces, and refraining from ordering those always-enticing dipping sauces, you’re saving yourself from extra fat and calories.
  • Make substitutions: Do they offer a baked potato as a side option? Opting for a plain baked potato in place of fries can potentially save you hundreds of calories. Also, ordering a bottle of water in place of a regular high-calorie drink is a more sensible decision. (p. 194)

Keeping campus food choices healthier:

  • At breakfast: Whole-grain breads and high-fiber cereals are good picks — as is fresh fruit — when you’re up against muffins, donuts, and white bread.
  • At lunch and dinner: Avoid fried, high-fat items and rich, cheesy entrees and go for grilled fish or chicken, wraps, lean meat and veggies.
  • Snacks: In between meals choose to snack on trail mix, nuts, or healthy snack bars instead of satiating a salty food craving with chips or pretzels. If it’s sweetness you’re craving, reach for some fresh fruit instead of cookies or candy. (p. 194)

As with most things, it’s all about making good choices and knowing that being short on time doesn’t have to mean forsaking healthy eating.

Reference: Content adapted from Nevid, Jeffrey S. and Rathus, Spencer A. 2013. HLTH. Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.