Healthy Fast-Food Options

by Rita Chaney

Let's face it, if you want to eat healthy, it is best to avoid fast food drive-thrus. But sometimes, you are short on time and require the convenience and brevity of drive-up windows. How can you grab a quick, on the run lunch and not blow your nutritional program?


The high-fat burgers and fries and sodas loaded with sugar definitely do not fill the bill when it comes to healthy eating. So, what's a person to do? If you want to eat a healthy lunch from a drive-thru, it can be done. Look for low fat choices that include fiber and protein. To follow are some suggestions for healthier lunches available at popular fast food restaurants.


You might not think of Arby's as a healthy place to eat. However, the Arby's Kid's Meal with a Junior Roast Beef Sandwich is 273 calories and 10 grams of fat. Not a bad selection for lunch. However, the sodium is 740 grams, which may not be a healthy choice for some.

A more "grown-up" selection-the Martha's Vineyard salad-is 272 calories and 9 fat grams. An interesting blend of greens, dried cranberries, walnuts, cheese, apple, tomatoes, and chicken, this salad has enough fiber, calcium, and flavor to get you through the afternoon. Add the light buttermilk ranch dressing for 99 calories and 6 fat grams and you're still under 400 calories.{relatedarticles} Burger King

Speaking of Burger King, isn't that the place with the low-fat, chargrilled hamburgers? Well, according to the nutritional information, the hamburgers may not be the healthiest selection to make. Your best bet at Burger King, if you are on a diet, is the Tendergrill Chicken Garden salad, which has 240 calories and 9 fat grams. Add Ken's Fat Free dressing for an additional 60 calories. Throw in 1 % milk for 110 calories and 2.5 fat grams. Not a bad lunch for around 400 calories.


A few healthy choices are found on McDonald's menu. For example, a McDonald's hamburger has 250 calories and 9 fat grams. Not bad, as long as you skip the fries. You could add the snack size fruit and walnut salad at 210 calories with 8 fat grams. So, this meal has vegetables, some fruit, and protein. Or if you prefer, substitute apple dippers plus low fat caramel dip (instead of the fruit/walnut salad). The dippers plus dip totals 105 calories and a fat gram.


If you prefer, the Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken is nutritious, having 320 calories and 9 fat grams. Order 1% milk at 100 calories and 2.5 fat grams to add calcium. Or treat yourself to a large, iced nonfat latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup for 50 calories and no fats. Now that's what I call a great lunch.

One of my favorites at McDonald's is the fruit n yogurt parfait with granola. At only 160 calories and 2 grams of fat for the parfait, you can add the snack size fruit and walnut salad and still eat lunch for under 400 calories.

Wendy's offers a few lunch items that won't break the calorie bank. For example, a small chili is 190 calories and 6 fat grams. Throw in a side salad with Light Classic Ranch Dressing for 130 calories and 8 fat grams, and you've got a filling and healthy lunch for just 320 calories and 14 fat grams.


If you prefer, the Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich is 320 calories and only 7 fat grams. Pair the chicken sandwich with the side salad and dressing for a 450 calorie/15 fat gram lunch.

Try these healthier selections at your local drive-throughs. Your body will thank you.