Choosing Healthier Alternatives at Fast Food Restaurants

Making sure your kids eat healthy can be hard enough at home, but what if you have to grab them a quick bite to eat on the way to soccer practice or guitar lessons? Allison Morrow, R.D., L.D., a clinical dietitian at Children’s, recommends selecting healthier alternatives at fast food restaurants.

Your Best Bets for Fast Food

Choose this...Not that!
Regular, single-patty hamburgerDouble patties, cheese, bacon, special sauces and mayonnaise
Grilled chicken sandwich, no mayonnaiseBreaded, crispy chicken sandwiches
Apple slices (no caramel dip) or a baked potato (no sour cream and bacon bits; choose chives and low-fat spread/margarine instead of butter)French fries

Choose this...Not that!
Six-inch sandwich or “skinny” breadFoot-long or large sandwiches
Whole-grain breadWhite bread
Lean meat (turkey, roast beef or chicken breast) or veggiesTuna salad (mayonnaise makes it fatty), bacon, meatballs or steak

Choose this...Not that!
Grilled chicken on a soft corn tortillaCrispy tacos
Black beansRefried beans
SalsaCheese dip


Look up the nutritional information of the restaurants you visit most often on their websites. Print out the information and keep it in your car so you can make smart, healthy choices when you’re on the go,” says Morrow.

Which list of buzzwords signals healthier alternatives?

List A

  • Baked
  • Broiled
  • Grilled
  • Roasted




List B

  • Alfredo
  • Au gratin
  • Basted
  • Batter-dipped
  • Breaded
  • Creamy
  • Crispy
  • Deep-fried
  • In cream sauce
  • Pan-fried
  • Scalloped
  • Smothered


If you guessed that the buzzwords in List A signal healthier alternatives at fast food resaurants, YOU ARE CORRECT! The buzzwords in List B signal food that will add fat and calories to your meal.



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