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Simple substitutions make a big difference


​In this fast-paced world we live in, it’s cheap and convenient to grab a burger on the go or have pizza delivered to the door step,” says Ronda Elsenbrook, R.D., at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic's Main Campus. “Fast food can be heart healthy if you learn to pick healthier options."

Ronda explains how the key to fighting French-fry cravings is about making healthier substitutions.

“More fast-food restaurants are offering a greater variety of healthy menu choices by including low-fat, low-calorie fresh foods and bottled water. Make your meal healthier by adding simple alternatives such as a small salad or a bowl of assorted fruit. It’s best to consider these selections before approaching the drive-thru window,” says Ronda. 

There are times when we have to eat fast food, but the simple act of choosing grilled instead of fried foods can make a world of difference on your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Much of fast food is fried, processed or both and can be associated with obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

Ronda suggests these tips to improve your chances of making healthy choices:

  • Plan Meals in Advance. Many rely on fast-food restaurants because they don’t know what they want to eat when the time comes. Planning your meals in advance eliminates the guesswork behind each meal and reduces your chances of choosing an unhealthy option.
  • Read the Menu Carefully. Be sure to ask fast food restaurants for nutritional information. Nutrition content is helpful to eating healthy.  
  • Don’t “Supersize” It. Even when the jumbo, double, super, giant and deluxe seems like a better value, larger size often means larger health risks. Order the regular size value meal.
  • Keep it Simple. Your meal no longer becomes a healthy option if you add bacon, cheese or other extras. As you pile on the extras, you pile on the calories. From sandwiches to burgers, keeping it simple will help minimize the damage.  
  • Forget the Fried. Deep fried foods can cause arteries to clog, increasing your risk of health complications in the future. Chicken, fish and vegetables that are grilled, broiled or steamed taste just as good as fried.
  • Sharing Is Caring. Many of the fast-food portions are big enough for two. Sharing could be an important factor in caring for your overall health. 


“Eating healthy is about making the right choices. Sorting out the healthiest options allows for a healthier and more productive lifestyle. If you pay attention to what you eat, you can still enjoy the convenience of fast-food restaurants,” concludes Ronda, who counsels patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Main Campus.