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Healthy Living

Hungry in a Hurry: Food for Fast Times

When it comes to food, families want convenience. It's no surprise that fast-food restaurants are so popular. However, many fast foods have a lot of fat, calories and salt. Children and adults can eat these foods every once in a while if other food choices are sensible. Here are some tips to consider.

Healthy fast food options

When ordering at fast-food restaurants:

  • Share. Split an order of fries with other family members.

  • Choose a food from each food group. Most fast-food places offer a variety of lower-fat choices, including salads (opt for low-fat dressing), plain baked potatoes (top with veggies or salsa), chili, low-fat milk, low-fat frozen yogurt, English muffins, or grilled (non-fried) chicken sandwiches.

  • Substitute. Drink water, low-fat milk or 100% unsweetened fruit juice instead of soft drinks. Juice be limited to 4 ounces per day for children 1 to 3 years of age, 4 to 6 ounces per day for children 4 to 6 years of age, and 8 ounces per day for children 7 to 18 years of age. If dessert is included with a meal, ask if fruit is available instead of a dessert.

  • Balance high-fat choices with low-fat choices. Order a small hamburger and a salad. Kids often like many foods available on a salad bar like fresh fruit, carrot sticks, and broccoli florets.

When shopping at the grocery store:

  • Plan ahead. It takes less than a minute to fix a sandwich with reduced-fat meat and cheese if you have the ingredients. Check the Nutrition Facts label on packaged meats because many deli meats, like salami and bologna, are high in fat.

  • Shop for healthier meals. For grab-and go meals, try ready-made deli sandwiches (made with reduced-fat deli meats) or roasted chicken served with fresh fruits and vegetables from the salad bar.

  • Shop for healthier snacks. Whole wheat pretzels, baked tortilla chips, and baked potato chips are low-fat alternatives, but watch salt content.

Last Updated
Adapted from What's to Eat? Healthy Foods for Hungry Children (Copyright © 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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