Earlier this week, an article was published in The Huffington Post called What Nutrition Pros Eat At Chain Restaurants.
This was perplexing to me.
I know there are those in the field who call themselves "pros" or "experts", who like to recommend what your best option is when eating at a fast food restaurant, weighing between grams of fat and calorie counts.
Knowing what I know about food, health, disease and chemical 'food' processing, I could never consider these 'healthier' options good enough to be regarded as options for those who truly want to eat well. If this kind of convenience isn't good enough for my health, I am just not comfortable recommending it to anyone else.
There is something to be said for moderation. There are certain things that are welcomed to enjoy in moderation. There are however, many more things that are just not okay in moderation and fall more into the 'never ever' category. Fast food, diet sodas, and anything comprised of GMO and/or chemistry experiments is part of that.
Lisa Borden, of Borden Communications and mother of three explains, "There is a HUGE difference between “healthier” and “healthy”. We should never compromise and do marginally better for ourselves, we need to do right by ourselves, always."
To offer some insight and inspiration about what my own UnDiet community of leading nutritionists, health experts, doctors, best selling authors, and UnDiet ambassadors would choose as their go-to fast food options, I asked them to weigh in.
Since the healthier of two junk food options still doesn't equate to healthy, our best defence against the temptations is simply to make the choice that there are no other options, and the best thing we can be is prepared.
William Davis, MD / Author of #1 New York Times Bestseller Wheat Belly
Fast Food Of Choice: Chipotle Burrito Bol
Why: Chipotle is one of those rare things: a fast food restaurant where organic, locally-sourced, sustainably-grown foods comprise most of the choices. Because I believe that NO human should consume modern semi-dwarf wheat, the creation of genetics research, I opt for the "Bol" without the burrito wrap but still enjoy the greens, salsa, and cheese.
Andy Bellatti, MS, RD / Nutritionist / @andybellatti
Fast Food Of Choice: A homemade trail mix of almonds, cocoa nibs, and raisins does the trick
Why: Fast, filling, and fiber-rich.
Jess Ainscough / The Wellness Warrior/ @JessAinscough
Fast Food Of Choice: Green Smoothies.
Why: I can pack them full of enzyme-loaded greens, electrolyte-loaded coconut water, and heaps of energy-providing superfoods. My favourite combo is kale, Cos lettuce, banana, coconut water, spirulina, chia seeds, hemp seeds and maca. These take about two minutes to make, and if I need to head out on the road I'll make a couple in the morning and take them with me in a cooler.
Lisa Borden / Idea Girl, Borden Communications / @LisaBorden
Fast Food Of Choice: A filled water bottle, and a couple bars from Go Raw Foods
Why: As I work full time/overtime and I am also a mother of 3, I seem to be perpetually travelling – and inevitably someone wants a snack or needs to fuel their body, myself included. I always make sure that I leave home with a filled water bottle, and a couple bars from Go Raw Foods. They are vegan, nut-free and packed with lots of goodness…plus they don’t weigh a lot or take up a lot of space, they are not over packaged and last a long time. The ultimate efficient power snack that is real food and a treat at the same time. Other healthier packaged fast food choices that are safe for on the go, and nut-free are here.
Also, instead of going to a restaurant and ordering a “lesser evil” option, it is simple, less expensive, and as fast as you can get, to go to a grocery, or health food store. Not only so most have meals-to-go, but they also now will have fully loaded kale chips (a meal in itself), or grab a jar of your favourite nut butter and gluten-free crackers and sit in the park and enjoy!
Nadine and Ron Artemis / Living Libations / @livinglibations
Fast Food Of Choice: Kale Chips
Why: Fun and Filling
Michele Simon, JD, MPH / President, Eat Drink Politics and Author, Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back / @MicheleRSimon
Fast Food Of Choice: Simple, bring your own from home. Hope that helps
Why: No explanation needed.
Daedra Surowiec / Owner Strawesome / @BeStrawesome
Fast Food Of Choice: Panera Bread Or Chipotle
Why: It's a rarity that I'm on the road without food that I've packed myself. But, if I happen to be on a long road trip the ONLY place I will stop is Panera Bread or Chipotle where I order a salad and drink the water I brought. I've been known to drive for miles just waiting for one to show up.
Sammie Kennedy / Creator, Booty Camp Fitness Inc./ @sammiekennedy
Fast Food Of Choice: Hands down my fast food of choice is a homemade smoothie.
Why: It is totally portable, easy to consume in a rush and I can jam pack as many nutrients as I want in one thermos to keep it cool. My favourite combo is frozen raspberry, hemp hearts, homemade almond milk, raw cacao, spirulina and a smidge of raw honey. Mmmm Mmm Good!
Gena Hamshaw / Choosing Raw / @choosingraw
Why: Dried fruit gives me quick energy, while the nuts keep me full from healthy fats. And they taste great and are easy to carry, too!
Julie Daniluk, RNCP / Nutritionist Julie Daniluk.com and Author Meals That Heal Inflammation / @JulieDaniluk
Fast Food Of Choice: Jicama Fries
Why: Is a root vegetable that tastes like a potato crossed with water chestnut and pear, and it is super low in calories (1 cup contains 46 calories and 6 whopping grams of fibre). It is eaten raw so it is so much faster than cooking and tastes even better than those soggy sticks from McYucks! The great thing is when you are embracing an UnDiet, you are eating such healthy food that counting calories is completely unnecessary.
When ever I travel, I hit a health food store as my first stop and look for fun food that does not require refrigeration. Jicama lasts up to a week out of the fridge as long as you store it in a cool dark place. Here's a fun recipe.
Josh Gitalis / Clinical Nutritionist / @JoshGitalis
Fast food of choice: Quinoa + Avocados
Why: When I am in a rush and don't have time make a meal I turn the faithful quinoa. It takes me one minute to rinse and get boiling and then I can get ready while it's cooking. Once it's done almost anything goes great in the mixture. I throw in some sprouts, coconut or flax oil, tamari, ground nuts and seed and I have a high-protein nutrient dense fast food. Total time preparing it takes no more than 3 minutes. My other favourite fast food is an avocado. It's got a low glycemic index and keeps me full when I need something on the go.
My own fast food of choice? I like to have a selection of prepped raw, roasted, and steamed veggies ready to go. They are easy to transport, can be added to a grain or greens to make a salad, can be dipped into hummus and nut butters easily, and help keep my energy stable and keep me eating seasonally and fresh.
If you are still unsure whether taking the time and effort is truly worth it, check out this list of books on the value, benefit and importance of real food, putting your health first and making the quality of what you eat a priority for you and your family. Chances are good, you won't see any of these authors gorging on a McMuffin diet anytime soon.
If your goal is to eat to improve your health, the truth is that it will be hard to make that happen by continuing to eating the same foods from the same places that contributed to the health challenge in the first place. Just some food for thought.