Healthy Habits

If you have a chance, order from the kids menu. The portions are smaller and you can usually make substitutions.

Healthy Habits

Fried foods like crispy chicken and fries are not the best option. Instead, choose items that are labeled as grilled or baked.

Healthy Habits

When you order a salad most restaurants give you more dressing than you need. So try adding the dressing yourself — and don’t use the whole packet.


Moderation’s The Ticket When It Comes To Fat

Let's start by shattering a myth. Fat is utterly bad for you, you need no fat. FALSE! You need some fat in your diet, just not in excess. Certain foods, or over-eating certain foods, can land you in too much fat if you're not careful. Fast food scores high here (lots of calories, too!), so caveat emptor (Latin for "buyer beware").

Fat supports your growth and development. It provides essential fatty acids (not a bad thing, despite the name!) that your body can't make on its own. It helps you absorb certain vitamins (A, D, E, K). It improves the taste of food. It supplies needed oils to skin and hair. And when it's chilly out there, it acts as a great insulator. So yeah, fat can be good, but don't overdo it.

Fat Types

Here's the scoop on different fats and what they do.

Saturated Fat

Solid at room temperature
Found in animal products such as: meat, poultry, and dairy products
Clogs arteries and veins
Should play a minor role in your diet!

Unsaturated Fat

Liquid at room temperature
Found in vegetable oils, salmon, tuna and sardines
Helps reduce risk of heart disease

Trans Fat

Originally created to keep things fresher longer
Found in margarine and other foods made with partially hydrogenated oils
Clogs arteries and veins

Measuring The Fat Content — A Hands-On View

This hands-on exercise will give you a clear picture of a few fast-food favorites and what kind of fat we're talking about. All you'll need is:

  • A tub of shortening (raid the pantry)
  • A measuring spoon
  • A calculator
  • Paper towels (to keep from getting things messy)
  • Four plastic bags

With the four fast-food selections below, measure out shortening (to represent fat) and place it into a plastic bag. Put them in a row so you know which is which. If you don't have shortening or time to do this exercise, do the math part below to get an idea of how many teaspoons or tablespoons we're talking about when it come to fast food and fat content.

Example:Let's say you've got an item with 12 grams of fat. To figure out how many teaspoons of shortening (fat) you'll need, divide the total grams of fat (12) by 4 (the number of grams of fat that are in 1 teaspoon). The answer is 3 teaspoons of fat in this item; so plop that amount into the plastic bag. Just a quick FYI: If you want to measure faster, 3 teaspoons equals 1 tablespoon.

Item Fat Grams Total Calories
Burger King Double
Whopper Sandwich
58 grams of fat 920 calories
McDonald’s Premium Bacon
Ranch Salad With Crispy Chicken
and ranch dressing
35 grams of fat 540 calories
Taco Bell Chicken Ranch
Taco Salad
54 grams of fat 910 calories
Wendy’s Jr. Hamburger 8 grams of fat 230 calories

Drive-Through Decisions

Surprised by the numbers and bags you've filled from above? Can you believe that the Jr. Hamburger seems to come from another fast-food planet than the salad or Whopper? When you consider you shouldn't (as a teen) eat more than 80 grams of fat per day, you can see that Whopper's already about got you maxed out, while the Jr. Hamburger gives you plenty of room to play. And salads can be deceptive, especially if you slather on the dressing or have extra "goodies" in there like crispy bacon or a crunchy taco shell.

So, yeah, fat can be good, but easy does it. And if you haven't visited your favorite restaurants website, check it out. It should include nutritional information on the foods you eat. You might just learn something about what you are eating!

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