Fast Food – Friend or Foe?

Fast food – just fun, or the first step on a slippery road to dietary disaster? Imagine … it’s been a long day at work and you’re too tired to think, never mind cook. Your child’s too hungry to wait and too cranky to sit in a restaurant and behave well. Those golden arches or that drive through window are calling to you, promising a speed, inexpensive and just about effortless family meal.

But fast food isn’t particularly good food and as you watch your toddler happily dunking greasy chips and chicken nuggets into sugary ketchup and sauce, you determine that you’ll be stronger net time and resist the temptation of a fast food fix, knowing deep inside, that this is a resolution you’re doomed to break.

Don’t beat yourself up about his. Fast food franchises are there to answer our most basic need – to eat. And when you’re an exausted working parent, you’re only human for giving in from time to time. It’s important that you keep your fast food meals limited though to avoid compromising your own and your family’s wellbeing. Try to stick to the following guidelines:

Don’t let fast food become a habit. Limit your visits to outlets to a couple of times a month at most. Make those fast food meals a special treat that you and your children can enjoy together.

Ask for nutritional information. Many fast food restaurants will provide, upon request, a nutritional breakdown of their menu items and this can be used to help you guide your selections.

Try to be as “healthy” as possible. More and more fast food chains are offering “lighter” “leaner” and “healthier” options across their menus. Pizza is a nutritionally sound selection as is a baked potato and broccoli. Hunt around at the salad bar and as well as all those mayonnaise-drenched salads you’ll probably be able to find grated carrots, chick-peas and green and leafy accompaniments to your meal. Frozen yoghurt is a good choice for dessert and why not order a carton of milk or orange guice instead of soda or a high fat milk shake. This will help make your meal a lot healthier.

Compensate at home – OK, maybe lunch wasn’t nutritious, but you can provide an after-dinner extra. Snuggle up with a great book from Scruffy’s Bookshop and nibble on carrot, fruit or a whole grain muffin as a treat when you get home.

Finally – don’t spoil your outing by feeling too guilty. If you’re not overdoing the excursions to fast food outlets, then you’re not putting your children’s health in danger. So hold the guilt, relax and enjoy.

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