Faithful Fitness: Healthy Fast Food Choices for Families On-The-Go

Faithful Fitness: Healthy Fast Food Choices for Families On-The-Go | katieemanuel.com

Life is busy, isn’t it friends? I feel like our family is constantly on the go. We are in and out of therapies, the hospital, the emergency room, the pediatrician, and various specialist appointments on a weekly basis, and as much as I would love to be able to cook every meal from home, it simply is not possible for us and more often than not leaves us with, you guessed it, fast food.

For a long time, I was really down on myself about the fast food we were eating, but was not sure how to make a positive change, so, with the help and encouragement of Aprille, I began doing some research and taste-testing healthier fast food items for our family and yours!

Here is what I’ve come up with:

McDonald’s

McDonald’s often gets a bad rap (and I do understand why) however, with thousands of locations nationwide, it is the most accessible fast food restaurant. So, I went through and found some menu items that are on the healthier side!

Yogurt Parfait: Made with low-fat vanilla yogurt layered with blueberries and strawberries, all topped with crunchy granola. 150 calories.

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap: Grilled chicken breast strips with tangy honey mustard sauce, lettuce, jack and cheddar cheeses, wrapped in a flour tortilla. 250 calories.

Chick-Fil-A

Predominantly available in the South (there are only four in MA), but if you have one in your area, they have some great options!

Chicken Soup:  Chicken noodle soup made with with carrots and celery. Delish! 130 calories.

Grilled Nuggets Kids Meal (6 count):  With a Buddy Fruit or mixed fruit cup and milk. 250 calories.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich: With unsweet tea (I sweeten with Splenda) or diet lemonade. 335 calories.

Wendy’s

Small Chili: Yum! I love their chili. It is great especially during cold winter months when I need something to warm me up! 180 calories.

Grilled Chicken Wrap Kids Meal: With apple slices and a bottle of water. 300 calories.

Subway

Sometimes, I just want a good old-fashioned sub. Here are a couple of great options for both you and the kids!

Turkey Breast Kids Meal: Small sub with turkey and veggies, served with apple slices and low fat milk. 180 calories.

Turkey Breast (6″ sub): Turkey breast with lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers with a bottle of water. 217 calories.

 

And this is just a start! Each of these fast food restaurants offer salads as well, I just find them a bit tricky to eat when I’m driving :)

 

How about you? What healthy fast food items does your family love? Please share in the comments below!

flourish

Faithful Fitness is a weekly series dedicated to getting fit faithfully, one step at a time. Whether you are a SAHM, working mom, struggle with a chronic illness, and/or have time constraints for fitness, this is the series for you! Be sure to check in here each Friday and to follow our Faithful Fitness board on Pinterest where we share great workouts, exercises, health and nutrition tips, and more!

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9 thoughts on “Faithful Fitness: Healthy Fast Food Choices for Families On-The-Go

    1. Katie Post author

      Thanks, Erica! I am glad it was helpful! It is so tough to find and prepare healthy food options when you are on a long road trip.

      Reply
  1. A Friend

    I forgot to point something out… I truly don’t want to sound preachy or judgmental. I care about you and want to help.

    You mentioned using Splenda. I’m not sure if you’re aware of a study that came out of Duke University last year linking Splenda to Crohn’s. Artificial sweeteners are a health threat. I truly wonder what might happen with your own health should you choose to stick to real whole foods (i.e. nothing processed, no fast food) and away from MSG and artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and all those nasty chemicals. You might see a welcome world of difference!

    Just has you have only one life and one body and should give it the very best nutritionally, you’re also shaping a brand new life and everything you put into your body goes to him or her. There’s a wonderful book that I recommend about how everything the mother does for the nine months that the baby is in utero will shape the child– from food choices to stress levels, baby’s getting all of it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Months-Before-Birth-Shape/dp/074329663X

    That’s why every doctor I’ve ever talked to recommends that pregnant women eat whole foods and, just as importantly, organic and non-GMO when possible. This isn’t meant to put pressure on expectant mothers, but to empower them to make informed decisions! So skip the fast food, eat those (organic) veggies, do some meditation and keep cooking that baby with love!

    Reply
  2. A Friend

    I want to strongly caution you (with love and concern) against thinking that of any of the items you listed are healthy choices.

    All of the restaurants in your post use additives, artificial dyes, chemical preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup. There is nothing healthy about fast food. Just because the calorie count is low does not mean that these foods are good for you.

    For example, the McDonal’s Parfait (which happens to be the least of all evils here) is full of sugar. The serving size is 5oz. That is an incredibly small portion for that many calories — calories that usually average closer to 220. You need to ask yourself if such a small portion will keep you full. In addition, look at the ingredients list. Are those things you want in your body– especially as you’re growing a precious tiny human?

    Chic Fil A’s chicken is full of antibiotics. Also, their chicken nuggets contain peanut oil. I know a lot of people with peanut allergies are fine eating peanut oil, but everyone is different. Also… MSG, MSG, MSG.

    Subway’s bread contains a chemical additive called azobicarbonamide. It’s banned in most European countries. In the U.K. it is banned because it’s widely acknowledged to exacerbate food allergies. They use it to improve elasticity in bread– because it’s also used in the production of shoe soles and yoga mats.

    According to the World Cancer Research Fund, it takes a very small amount of processed meat (exactly like the ones found in these “healthy” fast food choices listed) to increase the risk for cancer dramatically.

    There’s a blog I love called Food Babe. She does some great detective work sleuthing out what’s actually in so-called “healthy” fast food choices. Please take the time to read this post she wrote about Chic Fi A — a chain that I’m surprised so many people still think is a “healthier” option.

    http://www.foodbabe.com

    She has multiple articles about Chik fil a and Subway that are worth a read!

    Her findings are not unique and can be found relativity easily with just a little research. In addition, all the foods you listed contain MSG, an additive which is dangerous for everyone, but should especially be avoided by pregnant women. Not only should pregnant women avoid MSG and additives, people with Crohn’s Disease should as well as they can trigger flare-ups.

    Look for alternatives that don’t include fast food. Keep a cooler in your car. Stock it with apples, bananas, cucumber slices, healthy snack and protein bars. If you’re itching for a parfait, take 30 seconds to throw some healthy yogurt into tupperware and toss on a handful of berries at home — that’s also cheaper more bang for your buck! Healthy eating is not the easy choice, I know that, but the thing you put in your body matters. Food (real food) matters. Try reading about the real food movement — I’m sure there are blogs with convenient on-the-go options that don’t include fast food. Because at the end of the day, however cleverly marketed, no fast food is healthy fast food.

    Please take the time to read through some of the links I included. I think they’ll be eye-opening for you.

    The bottom line is that we should not trust that foods marketed as “healthy” are nutritionally sound. It is rarely the case that they are. Everyone should do their research and read ingredient lists. Taking responsibility and make informed food choices can be daunting but very empowering and, ultimately, best for your health and the health of your little ones!

    Reply
    1. Katie Post author

      Thank you for your comments and concerns. I agree with you that natural foods are the best choice for your body. I also know that as a mom with a son who has autism and a daughter who has needs as well that it is not quite as simple as throwing things together in a cooler. It seems simple, but I have tried to do it and life inevitably throws curveballs making it difficult. Also, when at the hospital (as we often are) healthy food choices are difficult to come by, and options like McDonald’s are all that is offered. In that case, is it better to eat yogurt or a Big Mac? I would choose yogurt. I work very hard to provide healthy choices for my family; however, I am also realistic and know that some days we will have to choose fast food, and when we do, I want to choose the best of those options. On the subject of Splenda, I use Truvia whenever it is offered (and that is what we use at home) but it is not available at fast food restaurants. Regarding Crohn’s Disease, there is a tremendous amount of thought and care I have to take into account regarding the foods I eat. Please bear in mind that the preparation that must go into eating foods (even natural ones) requires a great deal of work as well. For example, I cannot eat any raw vegetables. They have to be steamed or grilled. And there are many vegetables I cannot eat at all because they make me sick. So simple snacks like carrot sticks and celery are not an option for me. I also cannot eat many fruits because I am allergic to them. I go through phases when I cannot eat dairy and others when I can. Same with grains. Crohn’s is very unpredictable and I have to listen to my body every day to discern what I am able to eat at each and every meal. When it comes to my son, we work every single day, both at his therapies and at home, to teach him about and encourage him to eat healthy foods. It is a constant goal that takes a tremendous amount of care, patience, and encouragement. He recently ate a cucumber slice and an asparagus and we were overjoyed. That was after encouraging him to eat them (and working hard at weekly therapies) for more than 2 years. Regarding my unborn child, while I appreciate your concern and am sure it comes from a place of caring, the implication that I do not think about him or her in my food choices is inaccurate and, frankly, hurtful. I make the best choices I can in the midst of juggling a great deal of therapies, specialist appointments, hospital visits, and stress. The goal of the post was to share options for families, like mine, who are striving to make healthy choices in the midst of a challenging journey that does not permit the time to cook and prepare meals as often as they wish they could. With that said, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and hope you will take mine into account as well.

      Reply
      1. Offering Insight

        I deeply apologize if you found my comments in any way hurtful. My intention was not at all to imply that you were doing something wrong or that you didn’t care about your baby’s healthy — I know that couldn’t be further from the truth! You’re a terrific mom. Your blog seems to be a place for dialogue and I simply wanted to offer another perspective. Health and wellbeing are my forte and wanted to offer you some insights. For example, many people just don’t know how harmful MSG can be for pregnant women. If I was unwittingly doing something that was dangerous for me and my children, I would certainly want to know, wouldn’t you?

        My family has a very similar set of circumstances– which is how I stumbled upon your blog! (Thank you!) And I know how tough it can be. Like I said, eating healthy is not the convenient or easy choice. Is yogurt better than a Big Mac? Absolutely! And I applaud you for making the best of those choices. Are any foods on that list healthy? Not by a long shot. And I personally think it is irresponsible to list them as such. “Better” Fast Food Choices? Yes! “Healthy”? No. As someone with an online platform, your words matter and the word healthy in this context is wrong.

        I say that with love and encouragement! It can be so difficult to change our relationship with food– especially since so many of us grew up with fast food, AND when you have as many food needs and your family (and mine!) do. But in the time that it took you to write this post (or reply, for that matter) you could have tossed some shelf-stable (healthy!) snacks into your car to live there for the week in the event that you need them. That’s all I’m saying.

        And I by no means meant to imply that I know more about Crohn’s than you do– you’re living it! But a close friend has it and told me about the studies she’d been reading and I thought I’d pass them along incase you hadn’t stumbled across them. Again, not a judgment at all, but wanting to offer some insights that I have incase they might help you.

        On the subject of Truvia, read this:

        http://www.dietitiancassie.com/the-truth-on-truvia/ Again, this is just a matter of being aware of what you’re putting into your body. Read ingredients. Make knowledgable choices! Choose natural sugar or Stevia.

        My family, like yours, is striving to make healthy choices. With some extra thought and preparation, it is possible to avoid fast food. It’s hard, I know! (And that doesn’t mean eating all-natural meals that you cook all the time! I know that’s impossible!) Just wanting to offer my perspective as someone in the health field. And regarding Jack’s newfound love of veggies– congratulations! I know first-hand how trying it can be to get little ones to enjoy what’s best for them. Keep up the good work.

        Reply
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  5. Dennis

    This is a great post. As much as we want to stay away from fast food to have a healthier meal we can’t help it that we are as equally busy that fast food is the only choice available. To answer, I think the healthy food that I order from fast food chains would probably be the fillet-O-fish at Mcdonald’s and Caesar salad from Wendy’s I’m not sure though if they are exactly healthy choices but from the menu list that they have those two are the closest ones I can perceive as healthy. It is so nice of you to do a research and share the information with everybody it is not everyday that I read an article tackling fast food this way. I would definitely order those items the next time I visit those fast food chains, Thanks again for sharing this!

    Reply

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