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Your guide to healthiest fast food lunches


HOUSTON – From nearly a dozen fast food places in Houston, Catherine Kruppa, Advice for Eating dietitian, chose the healthiest menu items and they're not always salads.

Although none of the healthier menu items are calculated with fries, which would add an additional 500 or more calories, most of the items are around 300-400 calories. Kruppa recommends that range for most women and men trying to lose weight. Men who are trying to maintain their weight can eat about 500 calories unless they’re extremely active.

Here's a guide to the healthiest options when you're on the go:

McDonald's

Grilled chicken sandwich - no mayo, with fruit (apple slices)
Grilled nuggets – side of fruit
Southwest Salad with chicken - ½ dressing 

“Typically grilled chicken sandwiches come with mayo, so you want to leave those on the side,” Kruppa said.

Starbucks

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Fruit and cheese protein box
Blueberry oatmeal
Sous Vides egg bites
Spinach, feta egg white wrap 

Panera  Bread

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Steel cut oats with pecans
Fuji apple salad with chicken – ½ dressing 
Greek salad with chicken  - ½ dressing 
Chicken noodle soup
Strawberry poppy seed chicken salad – ½ dressing 
Quinoa bowls
BBQ chicken flatbread (380 calories) 

“My favorite thing at Panera is the Fuji chicken apple salad, and I get the dressing on the side and there's so much good stuff on that salad I don't even actually use the dressing,” Kruppa said.

Wendy's

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Grilled chicken sandwich - no mayo with apple slices
Apple pecan chicken salad - ½  the dressing
Power Mediterranean salad - ½  dressing 
Chili

 

“Their large chili is 300 calories and it’s protein, it's filling, it's actually relatively low fat compared to the other things on the menu,” Kruppa said. Order one of these for lunch or go for the small, which is only 200 calories.

Chick-fil-A

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Chargrilled chicken sandwich with fruit cup
Grilled nuggets with fruit cup
Egg white grill  
Southwest grilled chicken salad - ½  dressing
Light lemonade

“Worst case scenario, the best calorically fried chicken sandwich is at Chick-fil-A. It's like 400 calories,” Kruppa said.

Whataburger

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Grilled chicken sandwich 
Whataburger Jr. with apple slices
Chicken fajita taco 
Apple and cranberry salad – ½ dressing 

“I have a client of mine who's lost a ton of weight on Whataburger juniors,” Kruppa said. “She loves it because it seems so decadent to her but it's 300 calories.”

Subway

Six-inch sub meat: chicken, turkey, ham, or roast beef 
condiments: mustard, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, pickles, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers

“I'd recommend the six-inch sub. If you feel like you're hungrier than a six-inch sub, get double meat. So, instead of getting a twelve-inch where you get a whole bunch more bread, get double meat because it will keep you full. They're very used to that order. Then, if you need something a little extra they do have baked chips, they also have apples,” Kruppa said.

Chipotle

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Burrito bowls 

“You can still make that up to 1,000 calories,” Kruppa warned. “Pick if you want rice or beans or maybe go half and half and then you pick your fat: cheese, sour cream, guacamole… you don’t need all of those.”

Sonic

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Jr. Burger 
Applesauce 

Kruppa said Sonic was so difficult to find something nutritious on their menu, she could only find one item to recommend and only one side item that was not tater tots or fries. They do have grilled chicken items, but she said most contained other ingredients that increased the calories, fat or carbohydrates.

Taco Cabana

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Chicken taco, shrimp taco, steak taco (200 calories each)
Black bean taco
Cabana bowl – chicken, pico de gallo, rice or beans (choose one)

Snap Kitchen

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Anything – eat whatever you want!

Here's a printable version of this guide to take with you on the go.
File: Quick guide to healthy fast food lunch_20180501065113