*** BUILD IT YOURSELF: Look for quick service outlets that allow the customer to build their own sandwich, salad, or bowl. Many popular chains offer plenty of vegetables, beans, whole grains, seafood, and plant-based proteins like tofu from which to choose. Try to reduce starch- and sugar-rich items.
*** REQUEST A DIFFERENT SIDE: Even if fries are the default, most chains offer a side salad or an option like apple slices, applesauce, or baby carrots that can be requested instead.
*** DON'T "SUPERSIZE" IT: Keep portions reasonable (one hamburger patty, not two, for example), consider ordering from the kids' menu, and choose half-portions when available.
*** RETHINK YOUR DRINK: Fast food often means drinks laden with added sugars or just sweet in general. Instead, look for milk or water. Water is almost always available for free by pushing a special tab on the soda-dispensing machine.
*** LOOK FOR THE WHOLE GRAIN OPTION: Whole-wheat bread or whole-grain wrap options are often available to replace refined-grain items, and grab-and-go oatmeal is an increasingly-available breakfast offering. If whole grain is not an option, consider requesting it: consumer requests can bring about change.
*** LIMIT STARCHY OPTIONS: including rice and French fries, and instead look for more healthful ingredients like fruits, nuts, beans seafood, and plant-based proteins.
*** LOOK FOR HEALTHY VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Not all vegetarian foods are healthy (cookies and soda are vegetarian, after all). Nonetheless, the bean- or grain-based burgers, hummus and veggie wraps, or grilled vegetable sandwiches being added by some franchises can get more health-promoting plant foods on your plate.
Luckily for us, most Fast-Food Establishments are now offering much healthier choices. We only have to read the menu carefully and ask for substitutions or healthy sides. Several also offer their menus online so that you can plan ahead.