For anyone else trying to lose a few pounds, I know we've all had those times when you find yourself starving and in need of lunch or dinner and the only thing close and convenient are fast food joints. Of course, a lot of places offer "healthy alternatives," but the healthy alternatives taste like cardboard. So I thought I'd share some of the things I have found at fast food places that both fit decently into my daily food plan AND actually taste good.
Quick background on WW for Men in case you're not familiar with it: All food has a point value based on the number of calories, grams of fat, and grams of fiber. My allowance is 35 points per day, plus I can earn extra points through exercise (normally about 5 points for my typical Command PT).
Breakfast: I generally eat about 9 points at breakfast, something like:
- Raisin Bran Crunch cereal = 3 points
- 1% Milk = 1 point
- Yogurt Smoothie = 4 points
- Coffee creamer = 1 point
9 pts Breakfast so far
Snack: Usually sometime in the morning I have some Powerade for 1 point and a snack like a cheese stick or wasabi nuts for 2 points.
9 pts Breakfast + 3 points snack = 12 points so far
Lunch: At work, I generally have something like 12 points at lunch. For example:
- Flavored tuna pack (my favorite is the sweet & spicy, but the hickory smoked and lemon pepper are good, too) = 6 points
- Crackers to put the tuna on = 2 points
- Cup of mixed fruit = 2 points
- 100 Calorie Pack of Cookies = 2 points
9 pts Breakfast + 3 points snack + 12 points lunch = 24 points so far
After-Work Snack and Dinner: I generally have something like a cheese stick for a 2 point snack when I get home, putting me at 26 points before dinner. So I still have 8 points left on my daily allowance, plus my average 5 points from exercise leaves me 13 points left for dinner.
So that's a snapshot of how my food plan works on a daily basis, now back to the restaurants...
On those occasions when I find myself out and about and the boys demand going to a fast food place for lunch, here are some of my favorite things to get that both taste good and keep me in my target points range. The ones in green are my favorites that I will try and steer the boys' decision toward (when we're letting them choose where to go to eat). The ones in red I just plain avoid at all costs.
McDonald's: (website with nutritional info is here) I actually REALLY like the bacon ranch salad with grilled chicken, and I get the Newman's Lowfat Balsamic Vinaigrette. It was better in VA where the tomatoes were better. The tomatoes they put on the McD's salads here are soft and squishy and I won't eat 'em.
Stay AWAY from McD's french fries - they are the most evil, bad, naughty thing you can get to ruin your diet.
Burger King: I generally don't go to BK. Usually, if there's a BK, then there's probably a McD's somewhere nearby. I've tried BK's salads, and they just don't taste good. So I aim for McD's instead.
Carl's Jr.: If you're watching your weight, avoid Carl's Jr. like the plague. I used to eat there ALL the time. I LOVED their western bacon cheeseburgers with the onion rings on them, but they're more points than I'm allowed to eat in an entire day. I didn't find anything there that was worth eating for a reasonable number of points.
Subway: (website with nutritional info here) Subway sandwiches aren't bad. They have several healthy alternatives to choose from. My main problem is that in Groton, your choices to eat on base are Subway, Subway, or Subway, unless you want to get the greasy artery-buster pizza at the bowling alley. I think I just OD'ed on Subway on my previous tours in Groton, so I don't tend to go there very often. Plus, given my addiction to Mexican food, I generally will choose Taco Bell any day over Subway, and where there's one - you'll probably find the other not far away (except on the sub base in Groton).
Taco Bell: (website with nutritional info here) When I'm concerned about staying within my points allowance for the day, then I'll go with the chicken soft tacos. Ask for them "al fresco" style, and they will just put pico de gallo (tomatos and onions) and lettuce on them - no cheese. They're okay taste-wise. I much prefer the beef soft tacos if I have some maneuvering room in my points allowance for the day.
Chipotle: As I mentioned before, I absolutely LOVE the chicken tacos at Chipotle. I don't put any cheese or sour cream on them. I generally do lettuce, guacamole, and mild salsa. In order to get their nutrional info, you have to hunt for it on their website. Go to Speak -> FAQ, and the first FAQ asks for nutritional info. You'd THINK that if it was the most frequently asked question then they'd just put a link to it on the front of their web page??? Heck, Taco Bell figured that much out and put a BIG link right at the top of their main web page.
Baja Fresh: (website with nutritional info here) The tacos aren't as good as Chipotle, but they're decent and good on the WW points scale. My problem there is I LOVE their burritos, and they AREN'T good on the WW point scale. Maybe it was all psychological and the fact that I was denying myself the burrito I wanted made me resent the tacos?
Moe's: (website with nutritional info here) In response to Sam's question - the burrito I had the other night was a Triple Lindy. I got the ground beef, no rice, no cheese, added black beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, and it came out to 13 points - exactly my average budget for dinner. I was ravenously hungry that night and craving a burrito though.
My "usual" at Moe's is actually the Other Lewinsky (two tacos), I would go with chicken, black beans, no rice, no cheese, add pico de gallo, add lettuce, add guacamole, and it only comes out to a whopping THREE, count 'em, 3 points. Then I've still got room for some tortilla chips, maybe a soda, or a beer or some desert when I get home.
Panda Express: (website with nutritional info here) I've recently become a fan of PE here in Hawaii, in part because they advertise that there's no MSG in the food, and I generally steer clear of Chinese restaurants out of fear of MSG. Beware, there ARE some dangerous pitfalls here. The worst gutt-busters are the rice, the noodles, and their darned signature-item orange chicken that tastes SOOOO good. However, the black pepper chicken, the mushroom chicken, the beef with broccoli, and the veggie spring rolls are all very reasonable on the points scale (although not all at once / in the same meal) and taste really good, too.