Fast food can be diet friendly… if you know the score

It’s a new year and you’re working really hard on meeting your health goals, and then a friend invites you out to lunch. The good news is that you can suggest some places that won’t run you completely off your diet rails—even fast food chain restaurants—if you make smart choices. Below is a list of dietitian picks, tips and tricks for eating out on 400 calories or less. The list was compiled by Kristina La Rue, RN, CSSD, LDN, co-author of the Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies.

Restaurant: Panera Bread®

Healthiest pick under 400 calories: Turkey Sausage, Egg White and Spinach Breakfast Power Sandwich

Stats: 400 calories, 11g fat, 50g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 16g protein

Why it made the cut: Clocking in right at 400 calories, this breakfast sandwich contains 16 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and offers something that many people forget about at breakfast time—veggies!

Close contender:
Lentil Quinoa Bowl with Chicken:
This choice makes for a power-packed lunch or dinner option (that is, if you’re not watching your sodium intake, since it contains 1,370mg).

Stats: 390 calories, 9g fat, 48g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 33g protein

Restaurant: Subway®

Healthiest pick under 400 calories: Double Chicken Chopped Salad

Stats: 220 calories, 4.5g fat, 10g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 36g protein

Why it made the cut: This 220-calorie option is packed with 36 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, all with only 4.5 grams of fat. This nutritional information is calculated assuming you’d order lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, cucumbers and olives.

Dietitian’s tips: When picking a dressing, choose the 110-calorie Subway vinaigrette over the honey mustard. While honey mustard is nearly half the calories, it contains 11 grams of added sugar! Ordering the Subway vinaigrette will save you 9 grams of sugar.

For a side, ditch the chips and cookies and add a bag of apple slices to boost your fruit and fiber intake. Veggie-loaded, protein-packed, and complete with healthy fats and fiber-rich fruit—now that’s a balanced meal right at 400 calories.

Close contender:
6-inch Oven Roasted Chicken on 9-Grain Wheat Bread:
While the 9-grain wheat bread contains whole grains, it’s also a sneaky source of enriched wheat flour (aka the white stuff).

Stats: 320 calories, 5g fat, 45g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 23g protein

Subway Club Chopped Salad:
Boost the protein in this salad by ordering double meat.

Stats: 140 calories, 3.5g fat, 12g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 18g protein

For more advice on a healthy diet in the new year, connect with the new weight loss program at HCMC’s Golden Valley Clinic. To make an appointment call 612-873-6963.

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