Starting off, I know this post might ruffle some feathers because I still will be talking about eating processed and fast food. By no way do I think any of these foods are the best choice to be eating; however, we have ALL had that day where all our plans go bad and we end up eating at places we might not normally eat. This post is about how to minimize the damage while still eating at different “junk food” locations.
Think of it as a Eat This, Not That kind of post. No one is forcing you against your will to go to McDonald’s, but if you happen to end up there, how can you make the smartest choice?
What if your kids REALLY REALLY want to go to Dairy Queen for ice cream, and you just HAVE to get something? Yes, the best option would be to politely say, no thank you, but I personally haven’t figured out how to do that yet when it comes to ice cream.
For the purpose of this post, we will be following Person A, and Person B, and we will see where they end up at the end of the day. Calories are listed, along with amounts of carbs, protein and fat (in grams).
So you decide to start your day at Starbucks. Ready to buy a triple vente mochalattefrappa vanilla coffee? Think again.
A) Vente Salted Carmel Mocha = 473 calories – 74 carbs, 18 fat, 14 protein
B) Grande Skinny Salted Carmel Latte = 130 calories – 19 carbs, 0 fat, 12 protein
***Don’t drink your calories. You came to the coffee shop for a quick kick of energy in the form of caffeine, not for your early morning dessert. Make the smart choice, leave out the added sugar and heavy cream, and get your caffeine fix without the added calories***
Next on our day of fun comes breakfast! Let’s stop at Denny’s, ‘Mericas Diner! Ok lots of choices here, but they have this “Fit Fare” menu… must be healthy. I’ll take the Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast, right off the Fit Fare Menu!
A) Fit Fare Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast = 750 calories, 131 carbs, 14 fat, 29 protein
B) Fit Fare Loaded Veggie Omelet w/ Fruit Cup Side option = 420 calories, 51 carbs, 13 fat, 29 protein
***Just because something is labelled healthy or fit, doesn’t mean it’s the best choice still. When it comes to breakfast, break the norm. The traditional American breakfast is SO carb heavy that one can easily meet their carb goals for the entire day if they aren’t careful. Cereal, toast, pancakes, muffins, bagels, waffles = ALL CARBS! Your first choice should be a protein source (eggs in this case). Starting the day with protein will set you up for success. If there is an option to add on a side, always pick the fruit or vegetable option. This should be an automatic response.***
It’s the lunch hour and you are crammed into your co-workers van. “Hey guys, mind if we stop at McDonalds?” He says as he takes a gulp from his 36 oz. Super America Mt. Dew from yesterday’s lunch break…
A) Double Cheeseburger, Large Fry, and a Medium Coke = 1140 calories, 153 carbs, 47 fat, 31 protein
B) Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Kids Fry, and a Water = 460 calories, 56 carbs, 11 fat, 34 protein
***Yes, I realize you could be even healthier and get a salad instead of fries. Or if you are trying to get more protein in the day, another grilled chicken sandwich might be a better option. The point I am trying to make here is damage control. If you just NEED to eat some McDonalds fries, the kids portion is more than enough. A large fry is over 500 calories alone, while the kids option is only 110 calories. BY making this simple swap alone you are saving 400 calories from your daily intake, and still getting a little bit of those salty fries.
Also, same thing as at Starbucks, don’t drink your calories! A medium fountain soda is right around 200 calories. Combine this with a dessert before breakfast from the coffee shop and you have drunk over 600 liquid calories for the day! These calories are of ZERO benefit to you and your body. I can’t stress this enough.***
It is now 3pm at work, you are crashing, you think you are hungry (but its really just boredom or stress?) Time for a healthy snack! Kashi granola bars sound healthy.
A) Kashi Granola Bar – 130 calories, 21 carbs, 4 fat, 6 protein
B) Nothing OR Chocolate Milk Whey Protein Shake made in water = 130 calories, 5 carbs, 2 fat, 25 protein
***Equal calories here, different macronutrients. By having some protein for a snack, you will be more satiated (full) versus eating a quick carb source. This should tie you over until dinner. Also, maybe you aren’t hungry. Take a second to reflect on what is going on in your day. Are you stressed out? Are you just bored at your desk? Food won’t fix that. Go for a little walk to the drinking fountain, fill up your water bottle, and take some deep breaths. ***
You are driving home from work and your spouse calls. “Hey honey, we have so much going on tonight, I am going to pick up Pizza Hut for dinner. What do you want?” Sigh…
A) Two pieces of hand tossed, large, pepperoni and sausage pizza = 660 calories, 98 carbs, 26 fat, 30 protein
B) Two pieces of thin crust, large, pepperoni = 560 calories, 56 carbs, 28 fat, 24 protein
***This is a tough one here. Even by switching to thin crust and only one fatty meat, you only save 100 calories. You could get a veggie pizza option here, but would the kids eat that? If so, then do that. However, if you have to get one pizza for you and one for the kids, there will likely be leftovers – and we don’t want leftovers sitting around for later. Another option here could be to politely recommend to your spouse/person offering to pick up pizza, to grab a pre-made rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, along with some type of veggie. Saves time, and a ton of calories!***
Just when you thought your diet day from hell was over, juniors tee-ball team is hitting up DQ for Blizzards! You know that ice cream is not on the plan, but you just can’t say no…
A) Small DQ Reese’s Blizzard – 580 calories, 74 carbs, 21 fat, 13 protein
B) Kids Vanilla Cone – 170 calories, 27 carbs, 0 fat, 4 protein
***Another option here is get nothing, enjoy company and your kids, and maybe steal a bite from someones treat. Especially if you are person A in this case, you have had more than your fair share of food for the day. Also notice that Blizzard is a SMALL! 580 calories in a SMALL! Holy smokes!!***
The day is over. That was crazy. Now I will be the first one to say that neither one of these people had the best day when it comes to food choices. But lets take a look at the daily totals:
A) 3733 calories, 551 carbs, 130 fat, 123 protein (269 grams of sugar)
B) 1873 calories, 214 carbs, 54 fat, 128 protein (76 grams of sugar)
Person B ate at all the same places as Person A, but had almost 2000 fewer calories, 340 less grams of carbs, less than half the fat, and a little more protein!
The power of choice can be huge, especially when it comes to making decisions about what you will eat at some of the less healthy locations out there. It can be done.
Remember, we all fall off the wagon sometimes, it’s not your whole life, it’s only one day. You haven’t thrown everything away…
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Stay healthy my friends,