As parents, we care about our children's health. We know that slipping in the drive-through or setting down in the booth of a fast food restaurant is not a particularly healthy choice. Lots of grease, lots of fat, lots of calories.

On some days, however, a grabbing some fast food may be the difference between going hungry and having a meal. Fortunately, many restaurants have come on board with some fairly good food options for their youngest customers.

Chick-Fil-A

This restaurant, known for its great service and delicious chicken sandwiches, has a few healthy choices:

1. The Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich contains only 1 gram of saturated fat, 200 fewer calories than the Chicken Salad Sandwich, almost 400 less milligrams of sodium than the Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, and a decent amount of vitamins A and C.

2. The Fruit Cup includes apples, mandarin oranges, strawberries, and grapes, but very few calories, and no sodium, fat, or cholesterol.

3. The Carrot & Raisin Salad is a little high on sodium, but contains lots of vitamin A and has 100 fewer calories than the waffle fries.

McDonald's

1. The very popular Happy Meals (PDF) come with the option for a bag of sliced apples instead of French fries. The apples come with caramel sauce. Toss it.

2. Choosing the white milk instead of soda as the drink will offer some vitamins, minerals, and protein, but the best choice is water.

3. Mix a couple of lower-fat, lower-calorie side items as a full meal. New additions include a fruit and walnut salad, and a variety of snack wraps.

Wendy's

1. Kids' meals come with several healthy choices such as mandarin oranges and side salads.

2. Skip the kids' meal and choose a baked potato.

Subway

With a variety of bread choices, apples and yogurt for side items, and vegetable sandwiches, the popular sandwich joint has good options for young eaters.

1. Kids' meals add up to less in fat and calories than typical meals at other fast food restaurants.

2. Choose the Veggie Delite sandwich for your child.

More Ideas

  • Go for the whole grain bread options and fresh food that some bakery and deli-style restaurants offer.
     
  • HelpGuide.org, an organization dedicated to helping people make healthy living choices, suggests "undressing" foods by asking for them without additional ingredients such as mayonnaise, salad dressing, cheeses, and sour cream.

Avoiding the Fast Food Trap Altogether

1. Keep healthy snacks in the car. Great choices include dried fruits, chewy granola bars (less mess than the crunchy ones), apples, and whole grain crackers.

2. Keep prepared food at home.

  • Store simple sandwiches for busy days, cut and ready to be eaten when you walk in the door with your kids.
  • Salads, ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits can also be stored in gallon-size food storage bags in the refrigerator.
     
  • Keep healthy dips, like hummus and bean dips, in the refrigerator, stored in a container. When sitting down to eat, just take off the lid and serve with crackers, chips, or pita bread.

3. Plan Ahead. When you know you're going to miss getting home for dinner, store snacks in a cooler and keep them in the car.

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