Can Fast Food be Healthy Food?

January 27, 2007

You don’t have to sacrifice nutrition for the convenience of fast food. Check out these easy-to-tips to make your fast food healthier.

Even the enormous benefits of a healthy diet can succumb to the lightning-fast pace and urgency of a non-stop lifestyle. For many, the quick fix of fast food results in a steady diet of poor nutrition, weight problems, and an increased risk of serious health problems.

But eating healthier doesn’t have to mean giving up quick and convenient meals. Khun Somsri Techaworagul, an experienced dietician, sat down with Better Health to talk about how a few minor changes can make fast food meals healthier.

The choice is yours

It’s widely accepted that good nutrition starts with eating a variety of foods in the right amounts, and including foods from all five food groups. But most of us end up choosing the foods we enjoy the most rather than what’s healthiest.

“There are good foods and there are bad foods,” Khun Somsri explained. “Every type of food even so-called ‘junk food’ contains nutrients. The key to healthy eating is balance. If you feel like eating junk food, go ahead. But don’t forget to include other types of foods to maintain the balance in your diet.”

To put the principle into practice, if you choose to eat a quick burger, order it without the usual French fries and sugary soft drink. Instead, choose a salad with the burger. You’ll still satisfy your craving without taking in so much fat and calories.

Be aware of your food habits

Besides the choices you make each meal, being aware of your day-to-day food habits can have a healthy influence on your diet. “Some people don’t notice that they’ve had Khao-Phad-Kraprao (basil fried rice) four or five times this week,” said Khun Somsri. “This doesn’t mean that Khao-Phad-Kraprao isn’t good for your health. But it can be dangerous to eat the same food nearly everyday, because there’s a risk of your body building up harmful levels of chemicals from that particular food.”

Keeping a food journal is one proven way to stay aware of your diet, and more quickly notice unhealthy habits. With a day-by-day record of everything you eat, you’ll have a clear picture of whether your diet is in balance or needs some changes. “This will help you to know what foods you should omit and what foods you’re missing,” noted Khun Somsri. “It’s a very useful way to keep your diet in balance.”

With her expertise in nutrition, Khun Somsri worries most about the beverage choices people make. She cited coffee, milky green tea, iced tea, cola and other soft drinks as popular but poor choices. “We have to be careful about these drinks as they can contain a lot of sugar,” she explained. “A soft drink can have more than six teaspoons of sugar in one can. Imagine how much sugar we’re consuming if we drink several of these drinks a day!”

Eating healthy isn’t impossible, but it does take a bit of effort to get into healthier eating habits. Remember that what you eat is your choice, and taking a closer look at your eating habits good and bad can make a healthier, more balanced diet a choice you’ll enjoy. The key is balance. If you eat junk food, don’t forget to include other foods to maintain the balance in your diet. end.gif

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