Healthy and Fast Food:  No It’s NOT an Oxymoron

Healthy and Fast Food: No It’s NOT an Oxymoron


Let’s face it- we don’t live in a bubble and while we try and eat well most of the time, there are just those times when the drive-thru or fast food restaurant is inevitable.  Believe it or not you do not need to succumb to greasy, low quality burgers, french fries and deep fried and battered chicken sandwiches.

Here are the most frequented U.S. fast food joints and healthy options you can feel good about:


Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich- skip the mayo, ask for extra lettuce and tomato; eat it with only the bottom part of the bun

Premium Southwest Chicken Salad- hold the dressing and squeeze the lime on instead

Fruit and Walnuts – as a side if you are still hungry after that salad; the fat in the nuts will satisfy and are a good use of your daily calories.



6-inch Turkey Breast or Veggie Delite on one of the whole grain breads- keep toppings to fresh vegetables to avoid preservatives and additives; mustard ok, cheese ok, and avocado a great nutritional and filling boost.

Double Chicken Chopped or Turkey Breast Salad- swap dressing for a drizzle of vinegar and olive oil; ask if you can add avocado to it.

Sliced Apples- the crunch and sweetness are perfect substitute to satisfy the crunch from chips and the sugar craving from cookies.


Grilled Chicken Garden, Grilled and Fruit, and Southwest Grilled, or Side Salads- try to leave off the salad dressing but if you must order the lite Italian and use as little as possible.

Grilled Chicken Salad- skip the mayo, ask for extra lettuce and tomato; eat it with only the bottom half of the bun.

8-Count Grilled Nuggets and a Side Salad- skip the dipping condiments and use as little lite Italian dressing as possible

Fruit Cup- best choice for a side, especially if you are only ordering a side salad


Grilled Chicken Breast or Drumstick, side salad or green beans, side of mashed potatoes- take the skin off the chicken, have the gravy on the side if you must have it- and dip mashed potatoes in it with your fork rather than dump the whole container on it.

600x450-panera Power Chicken Hummus Bowl


Anything on their “hidden” menu- they are all high quality ingredients and minimal processed carbs. In lieu of dressing there is lemon juice and olive oil.  My favorite are the Power Chicken Hummus Bowl and the Power Steak Lettuce Wraps.

Their new Broth Bowls- I have yet to try these but they look amazing, fresh and healthy. The only caveat would be they are high in sodium.

Half Smoked Turkey Breast on Whole Grain and a cup of Garden Vegetable Soup- hold the mayo and load up on lettuce and tomato; cheese ok


Baked Potato with Sour Cream and Chives and a side salad-stick with the balsamic dressing for your salad.

Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich with side salad or apple slices- hold the mayo, double up on lettuce and tomatoes; eat only bottom part of the bun.

Large Chili with a side salad- stick with balsamic dressing

Burger King

Whopper Jr – nix the mayo; cheese ok, ask for extra lettuce and tomato.

Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich – no mayo, extra lettuce and tomato; eat only bottom part of bun.

Veggie Burger- it’s a Morning Star one but skip the mayo; order extra lettuce and tomatoes.

Side Salad and/or Apple slices are a healthy sides.  Stick with lighter dressings for the salad.



The Salad Bowls- choose any of the meats and they now have a vegetarian tofu scramble.  Nix the cheese, sour cream and opt instead for beans, a little rice and the salsas.  A side of guac is well worth the extra money as its good fat and fills you up.

Taco Bell

Their Fresco menu is the best bet- try the Fresco Grilled Steak or Chicken Soft Taco

Pinto or Black Beans are the perfect side for fiber to fill you up


Protein Bistro Box

Zesty Chicken and Black Bean Salad Bowl



As far as beverages go, keep to water, unsweetened hot or iced teas and coffees (and no, not the mocha lattes and frappuccinos).  Skip all sodas, even the diet.  If you must have something sweet, stash stevia packets on you to sweeten your teas and coffees.  If you are at a fast food that has fresh lemon slices, grab a few and squeeze into your water with a packet of stevia- voila- lemonade (a favorite of my daughters).

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