As any parent will know, there are those times when things just don’t go quite to plan (quite a lot actually!), and you are caught either at home, or out and about with a “hangry” child that needs feeding and there’s not a curly kale leaf in sight!
I know I frequently talk about “balance” (sigh, here she goes again…!) but I truly do believe that eating well as a family is not about being perfect all the time, but about having a diet that is balanced and most of all, a diet that is enjoyable for everyone and sustainable with day to day life.
I know a lot of parents feel like they need to give themselves 20 lashes with guilt stick if they have a visit to a fast food establishment with their kids (or go forbid they get spotted by another parent from school/nursery – oh the shame!!), but this really needn’t be the case. If or when we do end up caught on the hop or just fancy a treat, it’s easy to make some swaps or consider better options and still enjoy a fast food treat without that huge side order of guilt that normally accompanies it!
Here’s my top 5 tips to make Fast Food Healthier!
1. Skip the sides, choose a healthier option to share!
Almost all large fast food restaurants offer a healthier alternative to the usual side order of fries or the like, so opt for a side of salad or fruit where available. If no healthy alternative is available, then ask yourself if you really need sides on top of the burger / fried chicken / pizza, etc. If the temptation is really too much to resist or the kids are whining that they really need those fries then you can always share a portion between two or more!
2. Beware the “Supersize” Bargain!
Everyone loves a bargain and we frequently buy stuff at the supermarket because its on offer, reduced or seems like a great deal. But quite often we don’t actually need that item or the increased quantity of it and the same can be said for fast food. Most fast food restaurants will give you the option to “super size” your meal or “go large” for “only 30p” or the like, but it’s worth knowing that as an example, a typical nutrtional comparison between small fries and large fries is:
Size Calories Fat Salt
Sml Fries 237 12g 0.44g
Lge Fries 444 22g 0.82g
With this in mind, it’s certainly worth considering if you are buying it because you really are so very hungry or is it just because its only an extra 30p!
3. Go for the grilled and make it lean!
A great deal of fast food restaurant options are deep fried, but many places will have a healthier alternative such as grilled items on the menu. Try swapping a cheese burger for a grilled chicken wrap or other lean meat like turkey.
4. Cheers to Water!
After you have finished making the endless choices for all things food, it’s time to decide what to wash it down with! Milkshakes and fizzy soft drinks are generally high in calories and sugars so opt for water or a small juice. Some fast food restaurants even offer milk which is a better option for kids who won’t drink plain water.
5. Do it Yourself!
The fast food experience needn’t necessarily mean a trip out to a chain restaurant. With a wealth of healthy “fakeaway” recipes online these day, you can get the kids involved in creating their own healthier takeaway at home with all the things that they might expect from the real deal such as popcorn chicken, milkshakes and fries! Here are a few recipes to try: