4 diet-busting fast-food lunches to skip (and what to order instead)
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. )
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 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.
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.
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.
Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D. , Diet Blog , Diet , Lunch , Nutrition , Weight loss , Wellness
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.
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