Whether we find ourselves craving a little BK on our way back from downtown Evanston or fantasizing about Chipotle slaving away in the library, fast food sneaks its way into our lives. It’s fast, cheap, comforting and so not good for us — all of which can make it even more tempting. Sometimes, we just can’t help but indulge. However, we can control the choices we make at these restaurants. Here are some healthier choices that might slightly lessen the side of guilt that comes with those McNuggets.


Wendy’s baconator might not be the best choice if you’re trying to shape up for swimsuit season, but there’s hope! Wendy’s has recently switched to natural cut fries, a better choice than conventional fries for just over 200 calories per serving. If you do decide to order a hamburger, you can still up your meal’s healthiness by choosing a side of apple slices for only 40 calories per serving or a garden side salad for less than 30 calories per serving. But beware — not everything with the word “salad” in it is healthy. Wendy’s spicy chicken caesar salad may have lettuce but also contains lots of sodium and around 460 calories. As for dessert, if you can’t resist the classic Wendy’s frosty, be sure to order a small.

fast food

Photo courtesy of happyhomemakercindy.com


The king of fast food gets a bad rep for some of its menu items, but there it indeed offers some healthy options. Step away from the burgers and look towards the greens — McDonald’s offers a great variety of salads that are both nutritious and appetizing. At 190 calories per serving, try the premium caesar salad, which is high in Vitamin A, C and iron. In addition, the premium southwest salad is less than 150 calories and contains roasted corn, black beans, poblano pepper, lime juice and cilantro. If you can’t resist a few of those golden fries, get the kid’s portion — it’s only 100 calories, and the salad will fill you up anyway!

If you’re on the go in the morning, try the new fruit and maple oatmeal, which will make up 20 percent of your daily fiber requirement. While you’re at it, get yourself a large premium roast coffee. It may not be Starbucks, but this coffee has zero calories and is minimally processed (meaning it’s composed of a short list of simple ingredients with none of those words you can barely pronounce).

fast food

Photo courtesy of thedigitallatina.com

Burger King

If you’re a burger lover, try a simple small whopper without the mayo (the original whopper junior is only 290 calories). But, if the whopper isn’t your thing, the 4-piece chicken tenders are a good alternative for a mere 140 calories. The homestyle chicken strips are another low-cal option, with two pieces adding up to 90 calories and three pieces adding up to 135.

Recently, Burger King has gone after McDonald’s by revamping its menu with the addition of fresh fruit smoothies. These smoothies are made to order from real fruit, low-fat yogurt and milk. You can choose between strawberry banana, piña colada and tropical mango. But, stick with the small, which clocks in at 200 calories.

fast food

Photo courtesy of brandeating.com


Chipotle is a unique fast food restaurant in the sense that it has a lot of healthy options. Moreover, it doesn’t use artificial coloring, all its food is nut and egg free and 30 percent of the beans it uses are organic.

But, let’s face it: a burrito is still a burrito. To make your Chipotle as healthy as possible, here are a few tips to keep in mind. First, avoid sour cream, chips and cheese. We tend to go overboard on these, and they’re filled with calories and fat. Instead, load up on the fajita vegetables, which are a good source of Vitamin C and only contain a few calories per ounce. Also, avoid a whole bunch of extra calories by skipping the tortilla shell and getting a bowl with brown rice instead.

Photo courtesy of toastable.com

Photo courtesy of toastable.com

To find out more nutritional facts about each restaurant, download the Fooducate app on your smartphone. It will give you nutritional facts on just about everything you eat!