A Healthier Fast Food Diet

Cars line up at a fast food drive-through.

Healthy Eating on the Run

People are busier than ever, and when crunched for time, fast food is the go-to meal for many. It's easy, cheap, and fast, but often not healthy. While it's always healthier to prepare your own food at home, with a little forethought and planning you can avoid some of the worst foods and make healthier choices at fast food restaurants.

An almost finished container of fast-food fries.

1. Watch Portion Sizes

Usually a small size is enough to satisfy your cravings. A small order of fries can be up to 100 calories less than its super-sized counterpart. A small sandwich or half a sandwich is often filling and will curb your hunger. You can even ask for the kid's meal to ensure smaller portions.

A grilled Caesar chicken wrap on whole wheat tortillas.

2. Go Deli-Style

Deli-style fast food restaurants offer many options that are lower in fat and calories. Choose whole wheat bread or a wrap, and add lots of veggies for a flavorful and filling sandwich. But skip the mayo!

Side order bowls of fresh fruit.

3. Pick the Better Side

Forget the standard french fry side order – try fresh fruit or a salad. Most fast food chains offer these healthier options.

A fresh side salad made of mixed lettuce and cherry tomatoes.

4. Add a Salad

Even if you do want those salty fries or that fried chicken, order a side salad as well. Fill up on greens and veggies to get fiber and vitamins. You may even feel more full and eat less of the unhealthy fast food.

Fresh grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat bun.

5. Grilled Is Best

Even though chicken is a lean meat, many fried or breaded chicken options can have more fat and calories than a hamburger. Always choose grilled chicken over breaded or fried.

A woman eats an apple.

6. Snack Before Hitting the Road

You are more likely to give into temptation and stop in at a fast food joint if you are hungry. Before you go out, fill up on a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit, some veggies and hummus, cereal with skim or non-dairy milk, or low-fat yogurt.

A man sits on his car with an apple and bottle of water.

7. Curb the Cravings

Be prepared for cravings and keep healthy snacks ready and available. Keep them in your car or in your desk at the office so you can ward off cravings and stay away from the fast food. Drinking plenty of water will also keep you feeling more full and less likely to give into temptation.

A businesswoman buys a fruit salad at the supermarket.

8. Hit the Supermarket

Instead of a fast food chain, take your lunch in a local supermarket. You can find pre-cut fruit and veggie options, along with snacks such as low fat string cheese or yogurt. Many supermarkets also have salad and sushi bars, or other ready-made healthy foods.

A spoonful of mayonnaise.

9. Hold the Mayo!

Whatever you order in a fast food restaurant, hold the mayo! Mayo is full of fat and just one tablespoon contains nearly 100 calories! Try mustard instead for a low-calorie, low-fat condiment.

Sandwich, fries, and a glass of water.

10. Water Your Thirst

Water is the best way to quench your thirst. Don't add empty calories and sugar from sodas and other soft drinks to your meal. Water will help you feel full without adding calories to your diet.



  1. iStockPhoto / Bonnie Schupp
  2. iStockPhoto / Harg Timothy Ang
  3. iStockPhoto / Jack Puccio
  4. iStockPhoto / Eneri LLC
  5. iStockPhoto / Daniel Loiselle
  6. iStockPhoto / Rebekah Burgess
  7. iStockPhoto / Gehringj
  8. iStockPhoto / Eliandric
  9. iStockPhoto / CandyBoxPhoto
  10. iStockPhoto / Robyn Mackenzie
  11. iStockPhoto / Lauri Patterson


WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information