Sticking with a regimented meal plan is one of the best ways to stay on a long term healthy diet. We know this is true because we have seen it work, we might have done it for ourselves, or maybe we just like looking at meal prep pictures on Pinterest. As a side note, your meal prep probably won’t look like those pictures. If you are interested in meal prepping and get some advice on storing your meals, we posted an article awhile back that might help. You can find that article HERE.
But today I want to talk about what to do when life happens. When your groceries run out at the end of the month, when you forget to thaw out your chicken for dinner, or when you are traveling and need to grab something on the go. Of course, if you can avoid fast food, you should. The food you prepare yourself will be healthier for you and you have a better chance of portioning it correctly. But, you don’t have to completely ruin your diet over the circumstances listed above, and let’s be honest here, you won’t ruin your diet with one bad meal. But, its a slippery slope and one delicious whopper leads down a terrible path of chicken fries and shame. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you have to eat some fast food.
- Prepare yourself
Have an idea what you are getting into before you go to the fast food place of choice. If you wait until you’re staring at the colorful menus and the person behind the counter is rushing you to decide, you’re screwed. You’re going to blow it. Most fast food places have online menus with nutrition information on all of their regular menu items. I really like the way Wendy’s does their menu planing on their website. You can chose an item and customize it and see the changes to the nutrition as you add or take away. Chick-fil-A has a similar feature on their site. Burger King and Subway have less user friendly options, but they perform the same basic functions. I thought this was pretty useful so here are the links for those in case you have a few extra minutes.
2. Start with the protein
This is important because fast food menu items are full of saturated fats and carbohydrates. That’s why they are so good. You need some good quality protein and the portion size of the protein is going to be pretty consistent from place to place. I love the Zone Diet and I’ve been doing it for years. I count everything in blocks, so I always look for the protein content of these items. You’re going to be hard pressed to find an item that is JUST a protein course unless you get a plain grilled chicken breast or if you are able to find the holy grail: grilled chicken nuggets. It’s easy to adjust carbohydrate values by tossing half the bun or skipping the condiments.
3. Bet on the chicken
There’s nothing wrong with beef, it just always comes with a huge amount of fat when ordered in fast food form. I know what you’re thinking, “but fat is fabulous, coach!” It can be, and there’s not much to be afraid of when it comes to fat. Unless of course you are also having a lot of carbohydrates and lets be honest, you’re not passing up those french fries. So play it safe for this one meal and choke down the grilled chicken. Sorry.
4. Skip the condiments
Have you even been to a fast food place and you had a dime sized amount of ketchup on your sandwich. Then the next time you ordered the same thing and the meat squirted out of the middle because there was so much ketchup? The portion control on the condiments is not consistent. You’re better off getting it plain and adding your own with the little packets.
This is VERY important and it can save you a lot of regret. You know how many grams of carbs, fats, and proteins you need (if you don’t then work on that first!) If you WANT the fries, you have to give up the bun. If you want the double burger, you should cut out all the carbs. If you completely go off the rails and eat whatever you want, you HAVE to get back on track for the next meal. Setting some hard boundaries before you order your lunch can allow you some freedom to get something you normally wouldn’t without completely wrecking your whole diet.
One last note, stay away from sugary drinks. You won’t win that fight. There is no shame in ordering fast food with a diet coke. No shame.
So there you have it! Try these five tips the next time you have to take a detour on your nutrition plan. I hope they work for you! Let me know in the comments below or reach out to us on Facebook and let us know if you have any additional tips and tricks for eating on the go! Thanks for reading and as always, thanks for training with us!