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DODGE THE FAST FOOD FIX!

PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION |

When you’re balancing any combination of the following: work, school, kids or life in general, it’s often hard to make the right decisions when it comes to healthy eating. If you’re on the move and you don’t have a lot of time, that box of chicken nuggets or that juicy burger and fries probably sounds mighty tempting. But is that quick fix really worth sacrificing the diet you just started? While it’s not always easy to avoid the convenience of fast food, those tasty treats sitting in the office, or a late night rummage through your fridge, there are easy alternatives out there that require minimal planning!

Here are four typical junk food scenarios you might find yourself in and healthy alternative solutions:

Scenario 1: You’re running late to work and don’t have time to make breakfast at home. Instead, you stop off at your local coffee shop and end up getting your usual: a double shot white chocolate mocha with low fat milk and a French toast bagel with strawberry cream cheese. What you might not have considered on your rush to the office is that your latte/bagel breakfast contains at least 800 calories alone! Instead, try switching to green tea and request a whole wheat bagel instead. Green tea provides the caffeine you seek in the morning and is also full of antioxidants. The whole wheat in the bagel contains a lot of extra nutrients and fiber and will leave you feeling satisfied longer.

Scenario 2: You’ve got the midmorning munchies and the pastries in the office lounge are calling your name. Avoid diving in. Instead, prepare some easy snacks the night before, like celery sticks and a serving of peanut butter, or Ziploc bags of grapes or apple slices and cheese. You’ll get the sweetness you may have sought after with the pastry, but you won’t sacrifice your diet.

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Scenario 3: It’s time for your lunch break! You didn’t pack a lunch and the only restaurant in sight serves your daily amount of calories in a single super cheeseburger. Before you say “Buh-bye, diet,” take another look at the menu! Fast food restaurants are adding more and more healthy alternatives to the extra large burger and fries combo. Try a grilled fish sandwich or a salad with chicken for some protein. Or try a low fat deli sandwich. If you really want that burger, try going for a regular or a children’s size hamburger instead of that quarter pounder with extra cheese and mayo.

Scenario 4: By the time you get back from a long day at work, you’re famished and exhausted. It’s pretty late so you decide you’d rather order some Chinese take-out or some pizza. Stop! Avoid the late night calorie fest. If you know you’re going to be eating some late dinners during the week, find some time during the weekend to cook some extra meals so you have them ready to go later on. Purchase prepackaged vegetable mixes to make a quick stir-fry and add some brown rice. Have precooked chicken on hand that you can make into sandwiches or add to salads. Keep quick-cooking grains around such as whole wheat cous cous or protein-rich quinoa.

Fast food doesn’t have to destroy your diet. All of these are easy and even delicious ways to work nutritious eating in with your busy schedule.

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