According to the CDC, in the last 30 years obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents.  So in this world where so many struggle with being overweight and obesity, can we really say there is “better” fast food?  Burger King thinks so. Just recently they launched “Satisfries.”  They are being advertised as 40 percent less fat and 30 percent lower in calories compared to the same serving size of McDonald’s French fries.  But what does that mean?  If it has 30 percent less calories then you can eat 30 percent more? 

No. 

The small size still contains 270 calories, 11 grams of fat (including 1.5 grams of saturated fat), and 300 mg of sodium.  Not exactly something you would be encouraged to add to your diet. However, if avoiding fries is not a step you’re ready to take, then replacing your current size fry with a small order of “Satisfries” can potentially make an impact. 

There are other ways to make an impact when eating outside the home: 

  • Pizza restaurants: choose lower calorie toppings such as veggies, pineapple, chicken, Canadian bacon, or ham, and ask for thin crust. 
  • Mexican restaurants: ask that they “go easy” on the cheese, sour cream and avocado; ask for extra salsa instead. 
  • Burger-joint restaurants: “hold the mayo;” 1 tablespoon equals 100 calories and 11 grams of fat, and often sandwiches come with 2 tablespoons or more.  You can also choose lower calorie sides such as a side salad with low-fat dressing or fruits. 
  • Casual dining restaurants: ask the server to wrap up half or your entrée “to go” before he or she even brings it to the table, or split an entrée with a friend or family member so you aren’t tempted to eat it all. Usually, this holds true, even with “children’s portions” at restaurants. Also avoid dishes with the words: fried, batter dipped, creamy or cream sauce, scalloped, au gratin, cheesy or Alfredo, and request all sauces and dressings on the side.

Ultimately, with careful and conscious choices, restaurant foods can be part of a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Kelly Fisher  is an outpatient dietitian at Cook Children’s Medical Center.

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