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Phoenix Forward

How to eat healthy on the go

Fast food can be healthy

It’s inevitable: You succumb to fast food because the day is packed with meetings or the Little League championship game runs late. Or maybe it’s just because it’s a quick choice, tastes good and the kids will eat it.

The pace of life has made it almost impossible to avoid fast food … but are there healthy choices on the menu?

Yes, says Kim Brodie, a health expert and instructor in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Phoenix Raleigh Campus. “You have to be very disciplined about your choices,” she stresses, adding that eating the “super size” should never be an option.

“A lot of restaurants have recognized America’s problems with obesity, diabetes and blood pressure,” she adds. “They understand the value of meeting the needs of individuals who are trying to look for healthier choices.”

Next time you walk into a fast-food restaurant, or pick up a take-out menu, look out for these unhealthy items and follow Brodie’s guidelines for what to choose instead:

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White carbohydrates

Avoid: Breads, potatoes and rice. “Be careful with the amount of bread and other food items that contain enriched flour because over time, all of that turns into sugar,” Brodie cautions.

Order: Whole-wheat or whole-grain bread or dough for your sandwich or pizza. “The darker breads are a little more healthy ... because the grains are closer to their whole forms,” Brodie says.

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Cheese

Avoid: Processed cheese and liquid “nacho” cheese, both used by many fast-food restaurants. Brodie acknowledges that it’s hard to order a burger without cheese, so if you indulge, at least make sure the cheese is real and not processed.

Order: Sandwiches and pizza without cheese. “If you can manage having that sandwich without the cheese, then do it,” Brodie recommends. You also can ask for less cheese or have it replaced with a healthier alternative, such as avocado.

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Heavy condiments

Avoid: Mayonnaise, which adds fat and calories, and popular condiments, such as honey mustard, ketchup and barbecue sauce, because they contain sugar that also ups your calorie count.

Order: Plain mustard. “[It’s] always a great choice because it’s low in calories and high in flavor,” Brodie says. Other low-calorie options include hot sauce, horseradish, lemon juice and vinegar to help keep you from feeling deprived.

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Salads with fatty toppings

Avoid: Add-ons to otherwise healthy greens — such as fried meat, bacon bits, cheese and eggs. Question what goes into a fast-food salad, Brodie advises, and don’t forget to consider the dressing. Rich, creamy dressings, such as ranch, are calorie-laden and fattening.

Order: Light or fat-free dressing. If you must have a full-fat dressing, vinaigrettes are usually a healthier choice, especially if they’re made with olive oil. Getting dressing on the side lets you control the amount you eat, too. And if you want meat atop your salad, get it grilled, she says.

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