Categories: Healthy Eating

Does healthy fast food really exist?

Are healthy fast food options just a myth?

Is healthy fast food really possible or is it just a myth that pulls on our constant worry about the three evils, salt, fat and sugar that we are bombarded about in current health news?

(That said it must be remembered that our bodies do need a certain amount of these three, it’s all about moderation).

With most peoples lives now becoming busier than ever we tend to spend less time eating at home or picking the healthy option which we perceive can take longer to cook.

With fast food joints on every major corner, television commercials bombarding us to eat their food because it’s fast, cheap and now apparently healthy, it’s no wonder we often find ourselves sitting in one of these restaurants eating our lunch or dinner (sometimes even breakfast!).

So with all of these distractions and obligations how do you find the healthy option in the fast food world?

Dietary guidelines

We all want convenience to help with the pace of our lives so a lot of foods have become heavily processed aiming to make the whole cooking and eating process a much faster one.

The trouble is this brings with it a big downturn in how healthy food is now a days.

New dietary guidelines recently released by the American government suggest we eat more vegetables, whole grains, fruit and low-fat foods and that we should limit the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, which are found in red meat, eggs and cheese.

Check out this great round-up of the changes in this article on the Washington post.

The problem is even whole grains are deceiving these days with some being just as processed as their white alternative because they are made with enriched wheat.

Most of the nutrients have been stripped out by the processing.

Not only that but they also cost way more than the over processed product because manufacturers could make the enriched wheat version cheaper and faster.

So make sure you read the labels!!

Just for a bit of fun here’s a quick quiz we put together to see how well you know your salt levels in everyday food…

'How well do you really know your salt levels?'
Take our fast fun quiz and find out… Guess which food contains for Sodium

Most fast food uses this exact principle above to create cheap, fast meals and the trouble is most have a high calorie count to help fill their customers but on the flip side they have low nutrient levels.

So surely there must be healthy fast food options that are truly healthy? Do they really exist?

What to look for when searching for great healthy food

It’s important to remember when comparing menus and food that with calorie being a measure of energy, not nutrition, not all calories are created equal.

A great example of this taken from an article ‘Healthy fast food is not a myth — if it’s done right’ by Sweetgreen is…

100 calories of chocolate are not the same as 100 calories of nuts

5 grams of butter are very different from 5 grams of extra virgin olive oil

This post was in reply to an article posted on the Washington Post called ‘The Myth of Healthy Fast Food’ which made a case that Healthy fast food chains were selling a lie and that many of their dishes contained more calories and fat than many other more well-known fast food chains dishes.

This does tend to ignore however the fact that obesity has been linked to sugar consumption not fat or calorie consumption.

And that our bodies need healthy fats, polyunsaturated(including omega-3s) and monounsaturated fats which help us with many functions especially for the Brain and Heart.

We can get these for example from nuts, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines) olives, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds.

There does however need to be transparency by brands selling themselves as the healthy option.

To quote the post by Sweetgreen once more…

it doesn’t do much good for your health if your “ethically raised” chicken is beer-battered and fried or if your “clean” tuna salad is chock-full of mercury

The key points to be on the look out for when thinking about the fast food you’re about to eat are…

How much nutrition does the raw ingredient contain and is the nutrition being annihilated by the way it’s cooked? Is it local, fresh, organic and sustainable?

Look for menus and options that feature the correct seasons foods cultivated by local farmers.

Healthy fast food shops normally create their own recipes which can be extremely lush and tasty whilst offering you a totally different and possibly new choice.

Go forth and expand those taste buds!

Some Healthy Food Options…

If you live in America here’s a small list of fast food chains that offer a great delicious choice of fresh food…

  1. Sweetgreen – Using fresh, local and organic ingredients, adding subtle flavour and texture to make healthy eating great
  2. Veggie Grill – A plants based menu with a focus on using soybean, super grains and tempeh, packed with flavours
  3. Zoes KitchenWith greek roots, owner Zoe Cassimus uses the mediterranean diet of Grilled meats, olive oil and herbs to wonderful effect.
  4. Lyfe Kitchen – Their mission is to make wholesome flavourful food available to every community

To see a more comprehensive list Food Network have compiled a list of 17 healthy fast food chains containing some great options.

If you’re UK-based Leon currently has 33 restaurants across the UK and this chain is proving natural organic fast food is a popular choice.

The sweet smell of home cooking…. (and save money whilst doing it!)

If you can find time and plan well it’s always worth cooking at home as you have a much greater chance of knowing exactly what you are eating.

Just make sure you read the labels enabling you to go for the healthiest option.

Here’s a few simple tips…

  • Aim to have at least one non-meat dish every week, this doesn’t have to be seafood. Why not try a nut roast or vegetable curry
  • Make easy to reheat dishes at the weekend, make good use of that casserole dish in the cupboard!
  • Try and eat a side salad a few times a week and if with a dressing, try a homemade dressing

If you’d like to get some sparks of inspiration for fast healthy food to cook at home check out these fantastic recipe books….

The main thing to remember is the choice is yours to make, read the labels but do it with some knowledge of the facts about what they really mean and when it comes to eating healthy food you cannot go far wrong with Fruit, Vegetables, Nuts and Fish.

Your opinion

What’s your fave healthy fast food shop? Give them some love below and tell us why you love them…

Calm Happy Healthy

We exist to do all we can to help make life a richer, more inspiring and enjoyable experience, for you our reader. By aiming to help you realise that you have the power and ability to change what needs to be changed to improve your health, state of mind, diet, energy levels, reduce stress and do your bit to help look after the environment. Live a Calmer, Happier and Healthier life.

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