Do you have a favorite fast food restaurant that you could eat at any time?! Let’s be honest and say, we all do! Their food has been designed to do just that! I used to LOVE Taco Bell and could eat their soft tacos at any time of the day. They also used to have what’s called, chilito: chili beans and cheese wrapped together in a flour tortilla. De-lish. Since we’ve been eating mostly unprocessed foods, these just don’t taste the same and make me feel dissatisfied after eating them. I’ve also since learned that the food served here isn’t real, contains harmful ingredients, and is highly processed.
However, stopping at fast food restaurants is inevitable…. And anyone with kids knows how hard it is to keep little bellies full, especially when far away from home.
It’s been especially hard for my husband who works a corporate job. Can you relate? He is too far away to come home for lunch, so he is left with what’s available around him. He does occasionally pack his lunch and often makes a smoothie for lunch (He keeps a blender in his work kitchen, shops for the produce at the salad bar in the grocery store, and whips up some mean smoothies!). Point being, this is a real struggle for many. I’d like to share my favorite fast food items from different fast food restaurants to help give you ideas for less processed and healthier lunches or dinners! We can all use more ideas in this department!
But first, let me tell you why it is important to steer away from almost all fast food:
- The ingredients used to prepare the food is synthetic (it’s not real food but rather chemicals that imitate a natural product. Our bodies don’t react well to these artificial ingredients and additives.)
- The food is calorie-rich and nutrient-deficient
- It is hazardous to health over a long period of time. (like, fatigue, anxiety, disease, etc.) Our gut and brain work together in harmony. Processed food throws off the chemical balance in the gut which then can’t make clear signaling to the brain…this topic needs to be another blog post. 😉
- It’s linked to disease, physical and mental illness; and I’d like to add poor behavior and focus problems among children and adults
Here are a few of my food items from different fast-food restaurants:
Disclaimer: This is not a list of everything that’s healthy in fast-food restaurants, but rather items I’ve found, love, and meet the criteria for eating real food.
- Chick-Fil-A makes a mean Grilled Market Salad filled with baby greens, romaine lettuce, red cabbage, blue cheese, green apples, strawberries, blueberries, nuts and seeds. What’s so awesome about this salad is how much flavor and sweetness there is from all of these ingredients that the dressing isn’t necessary. The dressings in fast food restaurants, are 99.9% of the time made with highly refined soybean oil and loaded with sugar and other synthetic ingredients. This is what quickly turns a healthy salad unhealthy. Ditch the dressing if possible, and if that isn’t possible for you yet, then only add a tiny bit so your salad doesn’t become a dessert! 😛
2. Panera Bread also has several fantastic options! My personal favorite is the Fugi Apple Salad with Chicken. The dried apples really gives it a tasty crunch! Here’s a repeat from above about salad dressings at just about any restaurant: The dressings in fast food restaurants, are 99.9% of the time made with highly refined soybean oil and loaded with sugar and other synthetic ingredients. This is what quickly turns a healthy salad unhealthy. Ditch the dressing if possible, and if that isn’t possible for you yet, then only add a tiny bit so your salad doesn’t become dessert! 🙂
This restaurant is known for having “healthy”, food. While they have some great options, there is also a lot of highly processed and refined foods within their menu. Stay aware.
3. Chipotle has won my heart! I just absolutely love their variety, flavor, and good intentions to deliver quality food. I feel like they stand behind the food they deliver, and have nothing to hide. My favorite thing to get here is a loaded “Salad Bowl”. And it’s HUGE! I ask for extra lettuce at the beginning and end of their preparing line, add on a little bit of brown rice, load on the beans and veggies, and ask for a VERY small amount of cheese and no sour cream. Watch out for excessive sour cream and cheese, as they literally smother the entire meal if you don’t say something.
I’m salivating just writing this! 😛
Their burritos are definitely something to show off, however, they are refined grains and highly processed. The conventional chicken and beef is also concerning and not great for health. Do what works for you. I omit it because its a personal preference.
4. A regular fast food dinner for our family is at the Kroger Marketplace/Smith’s/Fred Meyer salad bar. Sounds so lame, but My kids LOVE this! And I seriously love that they are so happy with getting a big salad loaded with all of their favorite toppings that they can build by themselves. (Insiders tip: Loading on too many heavy fruits will make their salad be $10+. Been there, done that!) And, I always like to pick up a few groceries while I’m there…kill two birds with one stone. 😉
As you can tell, most of these suggestions are salads. Unintentional, but I think the point is made how most of the food at fast food doesn’t qualify as real food or whole food. This is really the healthiest items at fast food restaurants, and I choose these restaurants because they know how to do a salad right (flavorful, filling/huge, and nutritious). 🙂
I hope you’ll try out these suggestions and enjoy them as much as I do! These food items will also help keep your gut in check and not disrupt gut health like the highly processed food items at fast food restaurants.
I’d also love to hear what healthier food items you love from fast-food restaurants in the comments below because I could use a few more!