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We all lead busy lives and finding the time to eat properly can often be challenging.

Can visiting a fast food restaurant be a healthy option when looking for a nutritious and filling meal?

You may be juggling getting the kids to school, working eight hours a day, taking the kids to after-school activities, hitting the gym, and often means having to find food to eat on the run.

Unless you’ve taken the time to pack a packed lunch (as well as the kids!), Chances are you’ll find yourself visiting a fast food restaurant at some point or another.

Most people know that fast food does not mean healthy food and the typical food served in these establishments is a real destroyer of diet and health. Giant cheeseburgers with bacon and toppings, fried chicken and steaks, cheese-laden pizzas, burritos and tacos, all washed down with large or extra-large sodas and shakes.

Some foods can contain so much fat and sugar that a single meal would exceed the recommended daily intake for the entire day!

Now, if you are a healthy eater and visit fast food restaurants infrequently, the hamburger or the piece of pizza will not hurt you. However, if, like 40% of Americans, you consider the local fast food establishment as your second kitchen, it is time to watch what you are eating and monitor your health.

If you are in a fast food restaurant, careful choices and common sense can still mean that you can find a tasty and healthy meal. The best rule of thumb is to try to avoid any food in which calories from fat make up more than 30% of the total product. To calculate this percentage, multiply the grams of fat by nine (the total calories from fat) and divide the result by the total calories.

Now so that you don’t have to carry a calculator every time you eat, you can quickly get used to recognizing the types of food and preparation methods to avoid. If the food has been breaded, fried, or broiled many times, then it’s a safe bet that it’s probably high in fat. Keep in mind that these are not only hamburgers, but also chicken and fish.

Many modern fast food restaurants also have salad bars, so choose a fresh green salad to accompany your main meal. But again be careful about adding fattening extras like cheeses, dressings, and mayonnaise. Low calorie dressings, if available, are the best alternative.

Restaurants now provide nutrition information for their meals and foods, so the health conscious eater or dieter can find out what’s in their food, as well as the calories and fat in it. If the nutritional information is not clearly visible or readily available, don’t be afraid to ask a staff member as they should be able to provide it for you.

Eating on the run is something we can’t avoid at some point in our lives, but luckily we can make healthy choices instead of keeping fast food restaurants off limits.

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