Healthy Fast Food?

Elaine Lac

When did oatmeal become a menu item in fast-food joints? In an effort to promote a healthier lifestyle, fast-food chains like Subway, Starbucks and the ubiquitous McDonald’s franchises are putting calorie counters and healthier options on their menus. What happened to the days when we could super size for an extra 50 cents or when french fries were our only side option? A new health consciousness has emerged, one that America desperately needs.

America is known as one of the most obese countries in the world, and the number of overweight people has steadily increased since the 90s. On campus there are few signs of this due to the wonderful rolling hills keeping us in shape. But what happens after college? For some of us, there will be no more easy gym access, sports teams or hills to keep us moving. If we don’t learn about the importance of eating healthy now, there could be serious consequences later, so this is where the benefit of having healthy fast food comes in.

The fast food industry’s movement to healthy food is a blessing. We get cheap food, but are given a number of healthy options. As college students, we don’t have much money to spend on food, so these healthier options could help us out. McDonald’s has apple and milk options for kids’ meals. Subway promotes healthy five-dollar footlong subs. Starbucks has skinny and nonfat options. Along with these healthy alternatives, there are calorie counters to help make healthy decisions. Most people generally have to guess which options are healthy, but looks can be deceiving. Something like a grilled chicken salad sounds healthy, but with certain dressings, it could be worse than a burger. With this surge of better information and increased choices, people can make more informed decisions about their food.

You may lament the loss of indulgence to this health movement, but there is still room for that. Most fast-food places still have their signature menu items like the Big Mac from McDonald’s and Caramel Macchiatos from Starbucks. There are simply more alternatives and substitutions, so you can become more aware of what you’re consuming. If you really want your kicks, then choose some fast-food places that still allow you to have the unadulterated junk food experience.

What we put into our bodies affects how we feel for the rest of the day. Eating healthy foods can make us feel energized, while consuming unhealthy fast food can slow us down. It’s important to indulge too, but make sure you know your limits. The healthy options and calorie counters are there to help you. Don’t fight it; embrace a healthy lifestyle.

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