Dr. Oz’s Drive-Thru Diet

Dr. Oz shares how to make the right choices when it comes to fast food. Try his suggested menu items and three “road rules” to follow no matter where you dine.

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We all know the best way to a healthy meal is to prepare it ourselves. Whenever possible, you should eat fresh, home-cooked meals, sticking mostly to fruits, vegetables and grains while limiting your meat intake. Of course, the realities of life mean sometimes you need to eat on the run. Most fast-food menus feature high-fat, high-calorie processed foods that not only pack on the calories but also damage our bodies, eventually leading to diabetes and heart disease.

But just because your meal comes from the drive-thru doesn’t mean you have to punish your body. Here, Dr. Oz shares 3 fast-food meal suggestions. They should be less than 500 calories, contains no trans-fats, and have less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium.

Fast-Food Breakfast

Avoid the fat-laden breakfast sandwich we all know (and may secretly love) and make a healthy choice. Pick up a breakfast sandwich with egg whites and American cheese on whole-wheat or whole-grain bread instead.

Fast-Food Lunch

No need for a double or triple-stacked burger. Opt for a fast-food salad with grilled chicken and apple slices. Don’t overdo it on the dressing, and you could even tack on an additional (healthy) side!

Fast-Food Dinner

It’s tempting to chomp on chicken nuggets after a long day, but your body will thank you for choosing a quarter white, skinless rotisserie chicken, steamed veggies, and sweet corn. You’ll avoid the artery clogging, deep-fried chicken and instead enjoy low-fat roasted chicken that won’t leave your tongue coated in grease.

Now that you’ve got a sample menu to help you make healthier drive-thru choices, here are 3 ways to cut down calories and fat no matter where you place your order.

Road Rule #1: Start with a side salad or soup.

Start every fast food meal with a side salad or even chili! You’ll get far more nutrients than you would from most other drive-thru dishes. Plus, you’ll fill up faster, allowing you to shrink down both your normal burger order and your waistline!  

Road rule #2: Add your own flavor elevators!

Most of us turn to salt to punch up the flavor in our meals. Of course, that same salt wreaks havoc on our arteries, leading to all sorts of problems like high blood pressure and even heart disease.

Instead of salt, ketchup or mayo, try keeping a “flavor elevator” in your glove box. Red pepper flakes, sriracha (a Thai hot sauce) or garlic powder all make great salt alternatives, punching up flavor while cutting back on sodium. And if you forget your flavor elevator at home, just ask for a packet of hot sauce.

Road rule #3: Chew for 10!

Fast food refers to how fast you can get it, not how fast you should eat it! A 2009 study looked at the effect of chew time and bite size on satiety and overall caloric intake. The study found that both taking small bites and increasing the chew time significantly decreased the overall amount of food the subjects ate, likely because smaller bites with more chewing allows you to really blast your taste buds with flavor. So, take small bites and chew for at least 10 seconds. You’ll eat less and savor the flavors like never before!

Read 10 more tips for eating smart in the fast food lane.