Fast food is usually part of every vacation.  No need to starve or be victimized by the fatty fried offerings!  You have choices!  

The clock just struck twelve and your little critters are ready to chow down at the McDonalds a block away from your hotel. You’re just as hungry but can’t face the thought of a 1,000-calorie lunch. Trouble is, there doesn’t seem to be a healthier option anywhere within a ten-mile radius. Do you balk at the fast food, choosing to starve yourself as they indulge, or do you dive into a greasy double cheeseburger with fries right alongside them? Neither! These days, you have plenty of healthy menu options at most fast-food pit stops. I asked Jyl Steinback, a.k.a. “The World’s Healthiest Mom,” a personal fitness trainer, lifestyle coach and author of 15 healthy cookbooks, to teach us how to navigate the mucky waters of fast-food joints.

Hit the right spot. Choose fast-food chains that offer low-fat items like grilled chicken salads or baked potatoes. “If you order a spud,” Steinback says, “skip the high-fat, high-calorie toppings or ask for them on the side.” My favorite: a big baked potato from Wendy’s, hold the cheese, which is pretty gross anyway. Steps down, in fact, from Cheez Whiz.

Downsize. Beware the super-sized portion. Go for a small hamburger rather than a souped-up specialty burger – which will save you money and calories – and opt out of the biggie fries. A small fry will do just fine. I never order off the regular menu at McDonald’s. It’s a dollar cheeseburger (hold everything but the pickle) and dollar fries. I save money and calories.

Go topless. Let the bacon, cheese, mayonnaise, dressings and other sauces stay behind the counter. You’ll save on fat grams and calories. Okay, I admit it. I can’t order a burger without the cheese. The deal I make with myself: take the cheese but hold the mayo.

Cook it up right. Fried is bad, broiled or grilled is better. Many fast-food chains offer chicken sandwiches made this way, so go ahead and take them up on it. And remember that a chicken sandwich that’s been battered and fried is not a healthy item!

Ditch the desserts. Far from gourmet, fast-food dessert items like pies and sundaes are loaded with fat and calories and do very little for your taste buds. Save the splurge for something that’s worth it. I don’t know about you, but I’ll pass up an apple-pie-in-a-cardboard-box any day for a heaping helping of mint chocolate chip at a local ice cream parlor.

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