For many families, summer means spending more time on the go, in the car, or at the park. Even though summer schedules may be relaxed, it is no time to lighten up on nutrition – grabbing something fast can be healthy.
If you make pit stops at fast-food restaurants, check out the nutritional information before you plan your trip. Make several selections in advance. You won’t be tempted to choose the greasy burger, fries, and shake combo, which can amount to a whole day’s calories. Here are some healthy guidelines to follow as you check the nutritional facts:
- No more than 30 percent of total calories should be from fat, with no trans fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat
- Choose items with fewer than 500 calories.
Have it your way
If you get a sandwich made your way, opt for meats that are grilled, baked, or broiled. Skip the slathering of mayonnaise and opt for light olive oil or mustard instead. You might want to consider swapping your high-sugar soda for water, which is better for you and can be more refreshing in summer.
One of the best ways to control the nutrition in your “fast-food” is to pack it yourself. Carrot and celery ticks, raisins, yogurt, and homemade sandwiches on whole-grain bread can provide a less expensive, tasty, healthy lunch. Have the kids help pack the lunches. It can double as family time and can teach them about nutrition and health.
So how does a person determine how many calories are from fat?
Nutritional label information doesn’t necessarily include the number of calories from fat but often provides the number of fat grams instead.
It’s rather easy when you know a basic fat fact – there are 9 calories in each gram of fat. You simply multiply the number of fat grams by 9 to calculate the total number of calories from fat in any type of food.
Food containing 10 grams of fat would have 90 calories from fat; food with 15 grams of fat would have 135 calories from fat.
Avoid 30 percent fat – not just 30 calories
Finding the number of fat calories is only half the equation. We must take the calculations a step further to find the total percentage of calories per serving which are attributable to fat. This again is a basic mathematical function. Divide the number of calories from fat, by the total number of calories for each serving. Multiply the answer by 100 and you arrive at the percentage of fat. This number should be under 30.
Using these simple calculations will help you to make healthier food choices when you’re on the go. For the healthiest choice, make sure that the fat content of the food you choose totals less 30 percent of total calories and saturated fat is less than 10 percent of total calories.
Recognize low-fat foods.
There are some foods that are commonly recognized as healthy because of their reduced fat content. These include fresh fruit, yogurt, low-fat ice cream, skim and low-fat milk, grilled, skinless chicken, fish, salads with dressings on the side, and sub sandwiches that are made to order with low-fat meat and cheese. Today you can find many selections like these on fast-food menus.
Take a look at online nutritional facts and identify the healthiest fare at your favorite fast food restaurant and then go have a great summer.