The North American landscape is heavily dotted with fast-food and take-out restaurants—even in hospitals and schools. Some critics blame our affection for supersized portions of fast food, which is typically high in fat and calories, for the fact that more than 50 percent of adult North Americans are overweight.
Though most fast-food establishments offer some lower-calorie, more healthful fare, the overwhelming majority of the foods we eat at fast-food chains burgers, fries, hot dogs, fried chicken, and pizza—are loaded with fat, salt, and calories. Even some of the healthier sounding options, such as salads or smoothies, can contain more calories and fat than traditional choices if they contain a creamy dressing, cheese, breaded meat, or lots of sugar
Choose a basic hamburger, no cheese, no mayonnaise, no bacon. Order it dressed with mustard, pickle, fresh onion, tomato, and lettuce. Basic hamburgers are in the 250- to 350- calorie range, with about 10 to 20 g of fat, while deluxe, all-dressed cheeseburgers weigh in at about 500 calories (or more), with 26 g of fat (or more).
Of course we often want fries with that, but eating them comes with a nutritional price. Just one medium serving of French fries delivers between 360 and 450 calories and a hefty 17 to 22 g of fat. A large order of fries from several chains provides almost 600 calories with 27 g of fat. If you must have fries, get the smallest size. And if possible, order wide, largecut fries. They are usually slightly lower in fat and salt than the skinny ones because in an entire order of fries, there is less surface area for the oil to cling to.
A regular beef taco with lettuce in a hard taco shell has about 180 calories, with 10 g of fat. Stick to one taco, with only the regular toppings
How Much to Eat for Health
The Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit organization, has established nutrition recommendations that have been adopted by both the U.S. and Canadian governments. These guidelines list a “recommended dietary allowance” (RDA), the average amount in the daily diet that will meet the nutrient needs of almost every healthy person of a particular age and gender.
If experts don’t have enough data available to establish an RDA, they will list an “adequate intake” (AI), an amount likely to meet the needs of most people of that age and gender. Because too much of any one nutrient is also a problem, the “tolerable upper intake level” (UL) is also noted; this is the highest level that a person can get on an ongoing day-to-day basis that is likely to pose no risk of harmful side effects in most people