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The Plan for Those Who Like to Eat at Fast Food Restaurants

The Plan for Those Who Like to Eat at Fast Food Restaurants

Dieters are usually warned to stay far, far away from any kind of fast food. And that's for good reason. Much of what you find on a fast-food restaurant's menu is fried and jam-packed with fat and calories.


That's really not what you need when you’re trying to adopt a healthy eating pattern.


We've become a society of fast-food eaters. There are plenty of reasons for this. Fast food is relatively cheap, meaning you can get a filling meal for not a lot of cash. If you're on a budget, and forgot to pack a lunch, hitting the nearest fast-food eatery seems like a reasonable option.


Plus, it's better than getting a couple of candy bars out of the vending machine in the break room, right? We also flock to fast food restaurants because they're – fast! Sometimes there isn’t time for waiting to be served at a “real” restaurant or café that might offer healthier fare.


Sometimes you aren't in the mood to even walk in and order, so you go to the drive-through and get your breakfast, lunch or dinner almost as quickly as you can order it. When the end of the work day comes and you haven't even begun to consider what's for dinner, it's very quick, easy and convenient to hit your favorite fast-food joint.


So fast food does have a couple of things going for it.


And if you're the type of person who enjoys fast food, you're going to be pretty bummed out if you have to completely give it up on your diet. Diets that make you feel like you're being totally deprived and banned from enjoying anything that you truly like don't have much of a chance of success.


You need to be able to lose weight, while still allowing yourself some fast food now and then. That's the key. With many dieters who want to maintain volume of food without the consequences, calories and fat have to be cut back on. Those eating habits are what helped you gain weight in the first place.


Eating one fast food meal, with its super-size upgrade and extra tasty sauces can add up to an entire day's worth of fat, calories and sodium. Wow! That's what needs to stop. That's where habits need to be adjusted.


You can have fast food now and then – and there are many dieters who do nothing but eat fast food and still lose weight. But you have to learn how to make healthier fast-food choices.


That way you can still have some of the foods you love and continue enjoying the convenience that comes with drive-through meals. Is it really possible to eat fast food and lose weight? Yes! But you need to learn how, and commit yourself to making some healthy adjustments.


How to Eat


Here are the three things you need to consider when it comes to losing weight and still having fast food in your diet: healthier options, planning, and paying attention.


Even fast-food restaurants are offering healthy options for people who have special dietary needs or who are trying to manage their weight. And you can plan for your own healthy options, too.


If you're serious about losing weight, but you know you're still going to eat fast food, one of the very best things you can do is check out the nutritional value and ingredient lists for your favorite foods at your favorite restaurants.


A quick search online will provide you with tons of information. Simply search for “fast food restaurant nutrition guides,” or use a similar search term, or search for nutritional facts from your favorite restaurant.


Almost every fast-food chain gives you online access to its nutrition guides. Be prepared to be shocked and amazed. The number of calories, fat and sodium in some of your favorite fast-food meals could be incredibly high.


Checking out the nutritional guidelines will help you plan for ordering healthier options and for limiting or avoiding the foods that will really mess up your diet quickly.


Fast food places are becoming more and more receptive to making your food custom made to order - without that “special sauce” that adds a ton of fat and calories. They do want your business, after all.


Order your food naked of the extra sauces and dressings—ask for those to be put “on the side.” Instead of mayonnaise on your chicken sandwich, order it bare and get a packet of mustard or ketchup to put on it yourself—this gives you the control. Many fast foods would be reasonably healthy without the extras added on.


If you can, choose foods that are steamed or broiled, rather than fried. And skip the basted, batter-dipped, breaded, crispy, scalloped, au gratin, and creamy menu items.


Drink water or a diet drink, not a super-sized, sugar-laden soda. Drinking water will save a lot of calories and it's a lot healthier for you. Plus, at some fast-food restaurants, they don't charge for water, or if they do, it's often less than the charge for a soda. So you might save some cash, too!


Plan ahead by looking at menu options online and choose healthier options. Don't be afraid to order a menu item, asking for the cooks to tweak it a bit to make it more diet friendly for you.


Then, pay attention to portion size and to what you're doing. Portion sizes at fast food restaurants can be grossly misleading. Some fast-food meals provide you with over a thousand calories per meal or per menu item!


That's way more than anyone needs in one meal! Don't super-size, and don't eat the whole thing. Depending on what you order, you can take half home – save it for later. Or go to the restaurant with a diet buddy and split the meal - two meals for the price of one, and everyone is happy.


Be mindful of your hunger while you’re eating. Eating can be a very pleasurable activity. But if you're inhaling your food like there's no tomorrow, you're going to sabotage your diet.


Slow down and enjoy! Fast food tastes good. Eat it slowly and savor every bite. Stop when you're no longer hungry (which is different from being full). See if you can reduce your visits to fast food places if you find yourself cheating.


Don't cut them out if you love them. Just give yourself a chance to moderate things a little. Have you been eating fast food several times a week? Then cut a couple of trips off your weekly visit allocation and the rest of the time, make better choices, pack lunches, and plan dinners ahead.


And if you normally only go out for fast food once a week, just make your food choices better. Finally, learn to make some good, healthy meals at home that are quick and easy to prepare, and learn about packing tasty and healthy lunches for work.


You don't have to cook your own meals or take a lunch every day, but these are good habits to work on for weight loss, better health, and saving some money.


Exercise Tips


There's a good chance that if you're eating a lot of fast food, you're also a very busy person who really doesn't have a lot of extra time for anything. You're on the go. This happens more and more in this busy world.


College students rarely have free time, neither do busy parents, business people, people who work more than one job, or even those with a very active social life. But no matter how busy you are, if you're working on losing weight, you want to exercise. You have to get some exercise every day, if possible.


For basic health and weight maintenance, everyone needs at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. To lose weight, you may actually need more. If you're always busy, you might be wondering how you're going to find 30 or more extra minutes every day for working up a sweat.


Here's the good news: You don't have to do it all at once. You can do 10 minutes here, another 10 there, and still another 10 somewhere else. Just as long as you get 30 minutes in.


And here's more good news: There are a ton of ways to get exercise—you don't have to go jogging to do it.


So, let's go over some good tips for getting revved up with exercise.


First, we'll look at conventional exercise like walking, jogging, biking, working out at the gym, and swimming—that sort of thing. Take a look at your daily schedule. Of course, you're busy.


But realistically, can you find an extra half hour total five to seven days a week that you actually could devote to exercise? If so, what type of exercise appeals to you?


Getting started could be as easy as scheduling exercise in a spot where you were “busy” watching TV. Depending on what you do for exercise, you might still be able to get your TV program in, and in fact, this can work well for busy people. If you have a stationary bike or treadmill available to you, set it up in front of your TV and get to work.


If you really don't have the extra half hour in one sitting, see about breaking your exercise into 10-minute bites, like I mentioned earlier. On your lunch hour, put on your walking shoes and go for a brisk 10-minute walk.


Take the dog out for a quick walk. Turn up your favorite music and dance in your living room for 10 minutes while dinner is on the stove or you're waiting for your pizza to be delivered.


Devise a plan that will help you work a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise into each day. Use your imagination. And try to mix things up a little. The body will lose weight better if you keep it guessing.


So walk, dance, do calisthenics, work with weights, go for a swim, mow the lawn (with a push mower) or play catch with your child in the front yard. Don't always do the same thing if you can avoid it.


Here’s an example of a 30-minute plan that could work for you:


·         First 10 minutes - get up 10 minutes early and take the dog for a brisk morning walk.


·         Second 10 minutes - at lunchtime, get on the stationary bike and listen to your favorite music while pedaling your pounds away.


·         Third 10 minutes - shoot hoops in your driveway with your son or daughter, or by yourself.


Depending on your habits, your job and interests, you can pretty much choose any physical activity that gets you moving. It could be vacuuming or mopping your floors.


I have a few more ideas for you on how to get more movement into your busy lifestyle. When you have a choice, use stairs instead of elevators or escalators. Go dancing instead of going to a movie.


Pick up the pace when you're doing housework. Mow your own lawn instead of paying to have someone else do it. During your work day, get up from your desk to stretch and move a bit - take a walk to the restroom or around the building and back. I bet you can come up with some great ideas on your own!


Mindset Motivation


One of the most important factors in losing weight, no matter how you choose to do it, and regardless what you're eating and not eating, is your mindset.


It's entirely possible that you lead a very quick-paced life and that you’re one of those people who are always on the go. That's part of the reason you eat fast food, I’ll bet. It comes in very handy when you're leading a life that really doesn't allow for cooking gourmet meals every day.


To go along with your fast-paced life, you probably have a mindset that is always encouraging you to keep going. In some ways, that's great. You're a highly motivated person and you're interested in making the most of every waking moment.


But in some ways, that mindset isn’t so great. There’s a lot of value in taking some time to slow things down a little, allowing your mind to rest and you to take care of yourself. Part of following any weight loss plan is learning how to care better for yourself.


Take some time each and every day, even if it’s five tiny minutes to allow yourself to slow down. Don't worry about not getting something done. Five minutes is a small amount of time, and if you spend it caring for yourself, it will be well worth it.


What can you do in five minutes to slow down and care for yourself?


·         You can set a timer, close your eyes and breathe deeply, allowing much needed oxygen to reach your brain and all of your organs.


·         Listen to a wonderful piece of music or watch a hilarious clip of a favorite TV show or movie (try I Love Lucy clips – laughter is a proven stress reliever).


·         You can sit quietly with your cat or dog – another proven stress reliever.


·         Take a short walk through the garden or sit under a shady tree.


·         Take five minutes to write your thoughts in a journal—just write whatever comes to mind.


The point is to learn to slow your pace down a little. This gives your life more balance, and we all need that. If you can, try to give yourself some “calming” time every day, and work up to 15 or 20 minutes if possible.


As you work your diet plan, your mindset will make all the difference. A calmer, more relaxed mind will help you to slow down, pay attention, and make better choices. And you won’t seek solace from your busy day through the practice of stuffing yourself with comfort food.


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