I don’t want to be a crappy housewife. Can I serve fast food for dinner?
A few weeks ago, a friend introduced me to Tonje Langeteig’s song, “I Don’t Wanna Be a Crappy Housewife.” If you’re not familiar with the song, look it up. Consider yourself warned, though, it’s annoyingly catchy and fairly bad.
Regardless, I can relate to her sentiment. Mark and I got married in September, and when it’s my turn to cook, I strive to make good, healthy meals on a regular basis. That said, we have busy schedules, and I’m sure individuals throughout the Twin Cities can relate to the difficulty of finding time to make and eat balanced meals at home.
As a result, we sometimes sit down for a fancy dinner at one of the local fast food franchises. If I don’t want to be a crappy housewife – especially one who is studying to become a certified nutritionist – does that mean I should outlaw dinner at McDonald’s and Culvers?
For many people, permanently removing fast food from the diet may be unrealistic.
Meals from fast food franchises typically contain more fat, more cholesterol, more calories and less fiber than meals cooked at home, but there are things you can do to make your fast food dinners less diet-defying. Think about the following tips next time you’re at a fast food restaurant.
Did you know that frying foods adds about 50 percent more fat and/or calories? When you’re thinking about what to order, look for items that are grilled, not fried. For example, a grilled chicken sandwich from Wendy’s has eight grams of fat, compared with the 18 grams that are in a deep-fried, breaded chicken sandwich. You can also ask for a baked potato instead of French fries, which you can top with low-fat dressing.
Many burgers and sandwiches also come covered in several tablespoons of sauce. If you are ordering a burger or chicken sandwich, ask them hold the mayo. One tablespoon of mayo contains about 100 calories, and many burgers have more than one tablespoon. Think along the same lines with fish sandwiches. One tablespoon of tartar sauce has about 75 calories of fat.
Although sour cream and guacamole have fewer calories – about 25 calories per tablespoon – most restaurants don’t stop at one tablespoon. (Can you picture the workers at Chipotle adding your guacamole and sour cream with a ladle? Yikes.)
Add extra tomato or lettuce to give your sandwich more flavor. If you’re determined to have sauce on your sandwich, ask them to put low-fat dressings on the side, so you can determine how much you actually use.
After you order your sandwich, your next choice is what to wash it down with. The healthiest option is to drink your meal with water or milk. A 16-ounce soda adds about 200 calories to your meal; a medium chocolate shake adds about 350 calories; and a large shake easily adds more than 775 calories – or more.
If you want a few bites of dessert but don’t think you’ll be able to restrain yourself after that, you have a few options. For most people, a couple bites of something sweet will satisfy the craving for dessert. Split your dessert with a friend, or ask for a child-sized serving. Many places do not advertise children’s menus, but they typically offer much smaller portions at a lower cost.
Finally, one of the most important rules of fast food dinners is to avoid the supersize option. You may think you’re getting a great deal – more food, more drink and more fries for just a tiny increase in price – but that also comes with a large increase in calories.
I don’t want to be a crappy housewife who suggests fast food meals on a regular basis. But when that is all the schedule permits, at least I can be a housewife who knows that there are smarter choices available on your favorite fast food menu.
Source: Personal Nutrition, “Good and Fast – A Guide to Eating on the Run, or Has Your Wasitline Been Supersized?” Marie A. Boyle and Sara Long, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010