It is always tempting to branch at the nearest fast food joint. They are everywhere in Nigeria, and it is rare for you to drive down your street without seeing one. For taste and convenience, not to talk of affordability, it is hard to beat them. If you are always on the move, there are times you will want to grab a quick lunch and go. But the question is; is the food healthy? There is no denying that Nigerians obsess over weight loss, dieting, and keeping fit. Pictures, videos, and posts on social media show that people want to eat and stay fit.
But the truth about fast food is that; they are always high in calories, salt, fat, and sugar that is enough for an entire day. Not just that, they are also low in nutrients and fiber. Eating healthy fast food sounds like an oxymoron, but it can be different. Whenever you want to stop by at a fast food joint to grab something, there are ways you can make healthier choices.
Occasional fast food is appropriate. However, when you need to eat at a fast food joint, they are some steps you can take to eat healthy. The following are healthy tips to help you stay on track:
Keep Your Portion Sizes Small
This is an easy way to start making healthy choices. Always keep your potions very small and order for kid-sized foods. They are smaller and also have fewer calories. Choosing the smallest size will save you calories and a few Naira. Sounds like a great deal! Bypass super-sized meal. You are not missing out on anything. You are only making the best decision for your health. Ask for small servings. You will always find reasonable portions on the children’s menu.
Opt for Grilled Food Items
Fried foods like crispy chicken are always high in fat and calories. It is best to order items like lean meat like turkey, chicken breast, or roast beef. Research shows that fried foods are not only high in calories and fat, but they also increase a person’s risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes if eaten often.
Stay away from anything crispy. A grilled option will save you up to 300 calories. Before you order, pay attention to the descriptions in the food menu. Look for food items that are rich in fiber, grains, and quality protein. Fiber makes you feel fuller, regulates blood sugar, and also aids body detox.
Most times fast foods are always tasty, and this makes you want to eat quickly. Eating slowly is a smart approach, and it has a lot of health benefits. It helps you to eat less. Hormones mainly control our appetite, and these hormones tell the brain that you have eaten, and this makes you feel full. Studies show that people who eat fast tend to get heavier and gain weight when put side by side with slow eaters.
You have to chew thoroughly and calmly before you swallow. It reduces your eating pace and the number of calories you take in. Other benefits include:
- It aids digestion
- You feel calm and in control
- You get to enjoy the food
- It helps you absorb nutrients better
Try to order food that requires chewing, such as vegetables.
Many fast-food restaurants in Nigeria offer salad options. Salad is extra nutritious and will also save you some calories. They are great because you can always include a serving or two of vegetables in your main meal.
However, you should watch out for high-calorie toppings and dressings. Go for a salad with grilled protein and fresh vegetables on the side. If you can’t find salad options on the menu, you can order a balanced diet. The body needs it to work effectively. Order foods that contain vitamins, proteins, healthy fats, and low carbs. Avoid food items like cakes, doughnuts, alcohol, and ice-cream. Adding a salad to your meal provides a full range of nutrients that boosts the immune system. You can adopt the following the next time you are in your favorite fast food joint.
- Fill half of your plate with vegetables
- A quarter with grains
- A quarter with protein
- Then add a little dairy on the side
Rethink Your Drinks
Fast food joints offer a host of beverages to accompany your meal. However, some of these drinks are not healthy, and they can spike your daily calorie intake. A high intake of sugary drinks causes many chronic diseases.
Avoid regular sodas, sweetened juice, coffee drinks, or milkshakes. It is easy to drink hundreds of calories without knowing. Instead of these beverages, settle for low-calorie drinks or even water. You can never go wrong by drinking water. If you are not sure about the calorie content of a drink, you should stick to water.
Stopping by to eat fast food once in a while is a good idea, but you have to be selective. You need to also examine the food joint and observe if they are hygienic. Incorporating a few healthy eating tips will help choose lower calories and nutritious food at your favorite fast food joint. Practice the tips discussed above and make your way into healthy eating habits.
Deanna Minich is a functional medicine-trained clinician and researcher. She has experience in medicine and is willing to write and help people, also she is a part and a volunteer at Marijuana Detox. So, if you want to know the best how to detox your body and, feel free to contact her. Deanna is passionate about researching medical models to clinical medicine that combines physiology and psychology.