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Fast-food facts and fallacies

Quick or healthy? You might think your meal choices must be one or the other — and when you’re busy, fast food will likely win out.

But despite its poor reputation, fast food isn’t necessarily bad food.

“A lot of fast-food chains are starting to offer more healthy choices,” says Jennifer Ventrelle, MS, RD, LDN, a dietitian at Rush University Medical Center.

Healthier options include lean white meats, such as chicken and turkey — provided they’re not swimming in high-calorie mayonnaise or sauces or paired with cheese. Foods that are grilled, broiled or steamed are usually healthier than fried foods.

When it comes to condiments, mustard, ketchup and salsa are your best choices — and don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions.

A salad can be a good choice, but not always. Beware of greens topped with cheese and creamy dressings and high-fat meats, such as breaded fried chicken. Instead, choose salads with plenty of vegetables and opt for vinaigrette or another light dressing.

You can still eat a burger and fries occasionally, Ventrelle says. Just eat more healthfully at your other meals — and find other ways to cut calories. For example, order diet soda instead of regular, and make it a small order of fries. Or order from the kids’ menu for the smaller portions.

Whatever you choose, remember this: You don’t have to finish every bite. “Eat until you’re satisfied,” Ventrelle says. “Not until you’re full.”

Read “Good Foods on the Go” for ideas on healthy alternatives when you’re in a rush.


More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For more information about nutritional services at Rush visit ourFood and Nutritional Services home page.
  • Looking for a dietitian? Call (312) 942-DIET (3438)
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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To make an appointment with a physician specializing in older adult care or to have a dietitian at RUSH assess your diet and nutritional needs, call (888) 352-RUSH (7874).

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