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What is your IQ for choosing healthy foods?

With all the talk about healthy eating and weight loss today, we really need to stop and think a bit about the fast food and ready-to-use processed food industry. One really needs to be aware of the fat, calories, and sodium lurking in these products.

As a parent, you are approached by your hungry child who wants food and RIGHT NOW! He must also be aware of his own eating habits. If you are eating healthy you will also want your children to eat healthy. It’s a “family” situation.

A package of cookies or chips is much easier to pull out when you’re involved in an already busy schedule. But what are these items doing to your children’s health? Even if they don’t have a weight problem, this is not healthy food fare. Good nutritious food should be our first thought. Packaged foods that are readily available are lacking in healthy goodness. Here are some suggestions for quick snacks:

  • Apple wedges are tasty dipped in peanut or almond butter.
  • Carrot sticks or cucumber slices are delicious dipped in a light salad dressing.
  • A whole wheat tortilla spread with a little peanut butter and a small amount of natural fruit preserves and then rolled up will satisfy a hearty appetite.
  • Keep frozen banana chunks, fruits and berries in the freezer. (Alton Brown on the Food Network recently shared a tip. Peel bananas off the skin and put them in a plastic bag in your freezer. You won’t end up with those terrible black bananas.) Put the fruit with juice, soy milk, or skim milk in a blender and mix up a delicious fruit smoothie.
  • A good pre-dinner snack to keep on hand for children ages 3 and up is to wash the grapes, cut them, and store them in the freezer. As these could be a choking hazard, do not give to young children.
  • Make your own trail mix with raw sunflower seeds and raisins. The sweet and salty combination is a hit with kids and adults alike. Before serving anything with nuts, be sure to check for possible food allergies.

Vegetables with light salad dressing, tortilla wraps and trail mix can be packed in a cooler and taken on the road or stored in the office fridge for when Mr. Hungry arrives.

Now let’s go to eat in Fast Food Establishments:

There are times when fast food is unavoidable. Time and budget constraints require us to visit our friendly burger and fried chicken joints. Let’s face it, fast food restaurants and their drive-thru help stick to our schedules when we’re trying to stay on schedule.

Although you may need to stop for fast food, do your research ahead of time. You can go online and find out how many calories, grams of fat, etc. They are found in the various items on the menus of the different fast food chains. Then you’ll be prepared to make a healthier choice when you stop. You can easily consume your calorie allotment for the day and more in one meal. Learn to make healthy choices. They exist even in fast food. And remember that the plus size tends to do just that… Super size for you!

Forget the fries. Most fast food chains offer salads. Stay away from fattening dressings. Opt for a light dressing or oil and vinegar.

Most fast food places now carry some type of fruit. Ask for extra tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles on your sandwich. If you have the option of ordering a baked potato, this would be a good option. Be sure not to use the high-calorie ingredients on offer.

Even with something as simple as ordering a drink, you have healthy choices to make. Your waist will pay the price of your decision. Soda isn’t a good choice, and diet soda, depending on the artificial sweetener used, isn’t as healthy either. Water is always a good option. Other good selections would be unsweetened tea, 100% juice (not juice drinks), or low-fat milk. Here again look at the super size.

Don’t leave your portion ready at home when you’re away. The extra calories, which translate into pounds, you will be facing when you return from your trip. If you “have” to order the cheap meal, share it with a friend. A kids’ meal may be the answer to your portion control! If you order smaller portions, you won’t be tempted to overeat.

Beware of the extras. A dollop of mayonnaise, adding another slice of cheese, or additional sauces can really add up. Mustard is a good option since it is low in calories and carbohydrates.

Try to order meats on the grill or in the oven. Breaded chicken burgers will sabotage your waistline for sure. Battered fried fish could be a disaster.

As touted in The Biggest Loser, a Subway sandwich, especially a vegetarian one, can be an answer to your food concerns. If you are on a low carb diet, discard the roll and eat the filling.

If you find yourself leaving the house without stopping for breakfast, you may fail if you plan to stop at a fast food restaurant. This could very well be the start of the day’s calorie overload. Instead of a breakfast sandwich, order a bowl of fresh fruit, fruit and yogurt parfait, oatmeal cereal with milk, or just eggs.

As an example of various fast food chains and their options:

arby’s Beef and Cheddar Cheese – 440 calories/21 grams of fat

Best Choice – Roast Beef Jr = 270 calories/9 grams of fat

Savings: calories/12 grams of fat

king of burgers Original Whopper – 700 calories/39 grams of fat

Best Choice – Hamburger – 310 calories/12 grams of fat

Savings: 390 calories/27 grams of fat

by hardee Double Thick Burger – 1240 calories/90 grams of fat

Best option: thick burger: 850 calories/57 grams of fat

Savings: 390 calories/33 grams of fat

mcdonald’s Big Mac – 560 calories/30 grams of fat

Best Choice: Burger – 260 calories/9 grams of fat

Savings: 300 calories/21 grams of fat

sonic Super Sonic Cheeseburger – 839 calories/55 grams of fat

Best Choice: Jr Burger – 353 calories/21 grams of fat

Savings: 486 calories/34 grams of fat

Wendy’s Big Bacon Classic – 580 calories/29 grams of fat

Best Choice: Jr. Burger – 280 calories/9 grams of fat

Savings: 300 calories/20 grams of fat

I hope this information has been helpful. It’s a real revelation when you see these figures in black and white.

Both children and adults can have an unhealthy lifestyle that will affect their health and the way they live their lives.

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