It’s late. You’ve had a long day at the office, but it’s finally time to go home.

With weary bones you drag yourself to the car and your mind immediately drifts to dinner. And quite frankly, the idea of cooking and cleaning up afterwards is enough to make you lose your appetite.

So, before you know it you’ve whizzed through the drive through and bagged yourself some deliciousness. Job done. Hunger satiated … with only mild feelings of guilt and nausea for afters.

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. South Africans spend close to R2 billion a month on fast food and in many households this has become more of a staple than a spoil.

There are so many reasons why people love fast food. And yes, there are times when a fast food meal is certainly your best choice. If you have a busy schedule and have no time to make something, then grab-and-go meals are truly better than no meal at all. It is convenient and it requires no cooking skills. Fast food is usually tasty, cheap, and there’s a huge variety to choose from. Also, the fast food industry provides work for many people which means a significant boost to most communities.

It ticks all the boxes, right? Or does it? We all know that fast food isn’t great for us. It is loaded with saturated fats, sugar, and salt which can all amount to serious health problems. We’re talking high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, as well as mental health problems.

The good news is that there are more healthy choices at fast food restaurants than ever before. Fast food chains have updated their menus and have special items labelled as “light” or “less than 500 calories” to help consumers to identify lighter menu items. You don’t need to go on a calorie binge if you decide on a fast food meal.

Here are a few tips on how to choose healthier options:

  • Go easy on the toppings. Added toppings usually means more sodium or unhealthy fats.
  • Don’t overdo the salad dressing. Choose oil-based dressings such as Italian or balsamic vinaigrette instead of creamy dressings such as blue cheese or a ranch dressing. Also ask for the dressing on the side so you can control the amount that goes on.
  • Ask for mustard or ketchup instead of mayo or “special sauce”.
  • When ordering pizza, add veggies instead of meat, and get thin crust instead of the deep dish.
  • Top sandwiches with onions, lettuce and tomatoes instead of bacon or extra cheese.
  • Don’t add more salt to your meal, fast food tends to be loaded with it already.

If you’re going to indulge in fast food it’s best done in moderation. Always try to balance fast food with nutritious foods and make healthier choices whenever possible.

“Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health” – Julia Child


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.