4 Healthy Lunch Alternatives to Fast Food
Everyone looks forward to lunchtime, but are you eating the right foods? Lunch goers usually like to opt for something affordable yet convenient. And that usually means a lot of grease, an overload of sodium and too many grams of fat. When it’s time to consider your lunch options, stay away from the following four worst lunches based on calories and fat content.
- Fast Food Hamburgers and Fries
The average fast food classic hamburger contains between 250-300 calories, 8-17 grams of fat and 400-650 milligrams of sodium. This is before the burger is dressed with a slice of cheese (or two), bacon and any additional condiments. Now add on a large order of fries, and you’ve added approximately 300-700 calories, 20+ grams of fat and between 400-1000 milligrams of sodium. This isn’t even including a drink, which could put you at 1200 calories in just one meal!
Healthy Alternative: Black Bean Burger and Sweet Potato Fries
Substitute your hamburger and fries for a black bean burger (150 calories) and sweet potato fries (170 calories). You can find these healthy alternatives in your local grocery store, pre-packaged, or you can make them from scratch. This lunch option will only set you back 320 calories, essentially saving you 880 calories.
- Fried Chicken
Did you know just one fried chicken breast is approximately 500 calories? Add a biscuit and some mashed potatoes with gravy, and you’re looking at an 800 calorie meal with 41 grams of fat.
Healthy Alternative: Grilled Chicken Wrap and Pretzel Rods
Avoid the grease and choose a grilled chicken lettuce wrap. Pick your favorite leafy green, because it doesn’t have to be lettuce, to wrap a grilled chicken breast in. For more flavor, try adding tomatoes, a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette and any other vegetables you want. The more vegetables or fruits you consume, the lower your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Need a little extra something to go with your wrap? Try a serving of pretzel rods at only 110 calories.
Pizza is a fan-favorite when it comes to lunch, but is packed full of sodium. In just one slice of pepperoni pizza, you can find 680 mg of sodium. Not to mention the 14 grams of fat and 300 calories. But who stops at only one slice? The average amount of pizza consumed in the U.S., in one sitting, is three slices. That contains 2040mg of sodium, which is 40 mg over the daily recommended limit, 900 calories and 36 grams of fat.
Healthy Alternative: Caprese Salad
A healthier Italian option is a Caprese salad. This meal is healthy and easy to make for work. All you’ll need is mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil. Add the dressing, consisting of balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil, and you’re all set for a grand total of 250 calories and 18 grams of fat.
- Meatball Marinara Sandwich
Not all sandwiches are created equal. A meatball marinara from a sub shop can have as many as 580 calories, 23 grams of fat and 1530 mg of sodium. Then consider the bag of potato chips and soda you also consumed, and you’ve added 298 calories, 10.1 grams of fat and 185 mg of sodium.
Healthy Alternative: Roast Beef and Horseradish Sandwich and a Peach
Opt for a roast beef and horseradish sandwich and a large peach to save yourself 423 calories. All you’ll need to make this healthy alternative are two slices of whole wheat bread, two slices of deli roast beef, one slice of mozzarella cheese and one tablespoon of horseradish. Then finish your meal with a peach for dessert.
Next time you’re picking what you want for lunchtime, keep these four worst meals in mind and consider their healthier alternatives to enjoy a guilt-free lunch.