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4 diet-busting fast-food lunches to skip (and what to order instead)

By Brierley Wright, July 6, 2010 - 3:32pm

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I recently blogged about fast-food breakfasts that sound healthy, but aren’t—ones that duped even me, a registered dietitian—and I received dozens of (passionate!) responses on EatingWell’s Facebook page. Some readers commented on how fast food can’t possibly be healthy.

I’m debunking that myth: sometimes fast food can be healthy. Here are 4 diet-busting fast-food lunches to skip—plus lighter options to order or make at home and bring along. Because sometimes we don’t want to—or don’t have time to—make three meals a day at home, I'm offering healthier takeout options. (Click here to find lunch ideas for 350 calories or less.)

 

Salads

As much as we wish they did, the words “salad” and “healthy” don’t always go hand-in-hand.

  • Diet-Busting Salad: Wendy’s Southwest Taco Salad, 680 calories, 39 grams fat, 1,620 mg sodium.
  • Lighter Option to Order: Wendy’s Mandarin Chicken Salad, 570 calories, 25 grams fat, 1,370 mg sodium.
    Savings: 110 calories, 14 grams fat, 250 mg sodium.
  • Better Option to Make at Home and Bring Along: EatingWell's Taco Salad, 361 calories, 16 grams fat, 583 mg sodium. Plus you’ll get 10 grams of fiber and vitamins A and C, folate, iron and potassium.
    Total Savings vs. Diet-Busting Salad: 319 calories, 23 grams fat, 1,037 mg sodium.

 

Soup

Soup can be a great, low-calorie lunch or a filling addition to a meal. In fact, studies show that soup produces greater feelings of satiety than other types of food. But beware—even smaller servings of soups can pack more calories and fat than you bargain for.

  • Diet-Busting Soup: D’Angelo’s Lobster Bisque (small, 1 cup), 360 calories, 29 grams of fat, 820 mg sodium.
  • Lighter Option to Order: D’Angelo’s Broccoli & Cheddar Soup (small, 1 cup), 250 calories, 19 grams fat, 840 mg sodium.
    Savings: For a little extra sodium (20 mg), you’ll save 110 calories and 10 grams fat.
  • Better Option to Make at Home and Bring Along: Crab Bisque with Avocado, Tomato & Corn Relish (1 cup soup, ¼ cup relish), 230 calories, 7 grams fat, 441 mg sodium.
    Total Savings vs. Diet-Busting Soup: 130 calories, 22 grams fat, 379 mg sodium.

 

Turkey Sandwich

Who knew a sandwich made with turkey, a lean source of protein, could reach upwards of 1,000 calories and 50 grams of fat?

  • Diet-Busting Turkey Sandwich: Panera’s Sierra Turkey Sandwich, 970 calories, 51 grams of fat.
  • Lighter Option to Order: Panera’s Smoked Turkey Sandwich, 560 calories, 15 grams fat.
    Savings: 410 calories, 36 grams fat.
  • Better Option to Make at Home and Bring Along: Turkey & Tomato Panini, 272 calories, 4 grams fat.
    Total Savings vs. Diet-Busting Turkey Sandwich: 698 calories, 47 grams fat.

 

Burritos

Despite being packed with veggies, lean meat and on a whole-wheat tortilla, burritos can offer an exceptionally high number of calories and fat.

  • Diet-Busting Burrito: Moe’s Homewrecker, original size with chicken and on a whole-wheat tortilla, 925 calories, 38 grams fat.
  • Lighter Option to Order: Moe’s Art Vandalay, original size, 775 calories, 29 grams of fat. Or order the Junior size on a whole-grain tortilla for 283 calories and 7 grams fat.
    Savings if you order the Junior: 642 calories, 31 grams fat.
  • Better Option to Make at Home and Bring Along: Barbecued Chicken Burritos, 353 calories, 9 grams fat. Plus you’ll get some fiber and iron.
    Total Savings vs. Diet-Busting Burrito: 572 calories and 29 grams of fat.

What’s your favorite healthy fast-food lunch? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Brierley Wright, Diet Blog, Diet, Lunch, Nutrition, Weight loss, Wellness

Brierley Wright
Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.

Brierley asks: What’s your favorite healthy fast-food lunch?

Tell us what you think:

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