Trim The Fat: Healthy Fast Food?

Maria Hoover, SBJ Features EditorMaria’s weight change: -0.6 of a pound this week; total -11 pounds

One of the trickiest things about trying to eat healthy and trim down is dining out – and when quick dining is the desire, it can be even more difficult.

A recent visit to, however, offered a bit of help for on-the-go diners.

Traci Minkin and Brittani Renaud, writers at Health magazine, have come up with a list of the Top 10 healthiest fast-food restaurants in the U.S.

America’s largest fast-food chains, based on the number of locations, were scored on factors such as the use of healthy fats and preparation methods, healthy sodium counts, use of organic produce and availability of nutritional information

The list only contained three familiar names for me: Panera Bread (No. 1), Chipotle (No. 6) and – most surprising – McDonald’s (No. 8).

For each of the Top 10, the authors listed likes and danger zones. At McDonald’s, for example, they lauded the lower-calorie snack wraps, grilled chicken and salads but warned diners to beware of super-sizing fries – even though they’re cooked in what’s termed a “healthy canola-blend” oil – or sugar-laden sodas.

I admit that I was surprised to see Panera on that list, but that’s probably because when I think of Panera, it’s in terms of gooey pastries and creamy soups. Next time I stop in, I’ll have to consider some of the lighter half-sandwich-and-soup combos.

Chipotle was less of a surprise, but still not on the list of eateries that came to my mind for healthy fast food. Turns out that the fresh ingredients and antibiotic-free meats helped boost Chipotle’s ranking.

It’s interesting that the restaurant industry is taking an interest in the fight against obesity. It may be that they are doing so simply because that’s what consumers are demanding, but I’d like to think that at least part of their motivation comes from seeing a need to improve the nation’s overall health.

Let’s just hope other eateries take note.

Progress update
Posting even such a small loss after a rough week was a nice surprise. What I’m finding helpful on this go-round of working for better health and weight loss is approaching each meal – and each day – with a clean-slate mindset.
Share your favorites for healthy dining in the “responses” area below.

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