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Fast food revelation: that greasy French fry or double cheese-burger is calling your name? Know how to be smart about it.

It's summer, it's lunchtime, you're starving. You only have 15 minutes between swim practice and your afternoon babysitting job, and the drive-thru at Mickey D's is right on the way. Next day, you're having lunch with your girls at Olive Garden, Chili's or Applebee's. Here's the deal: You don't have to stay home with a plate of steamed veggies. You can indulge--just order wisely.

THE FAST-FOOD FACTS

It tastes good, so what's the prob? Well, fast foods are often heavily processed. And many eat-in restaurants aren't any more healthful than fast-food places. Most chain restaurants cook foods in a way similar to boxy burger or taco joints.

The foods are usually super high in fat, since so many menu items are fried. Plus, the oil used to cook with is often hydrogenated, which is loaded with bad-for-you trans fat. The bread tends to be white, not whole-grain. And the potatoes for fries are peeled, so a lot of the good-for-you fiber is stripped away.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

If portions are HUGE, you're tempted to eat more. Not surprisingly, studies show that those who eat the most fast food tend to be the least healthy. Go to fastfoodfacts.info/index.shtml to find out what's in your takeout. Type in the name of your favorite restaurants and menu items, or do a search of every burger made by every chain. You'll get the complete lowdown--fat, calories, carbs, protein, fiber, sodium and sugar.

FORGET FRIED IF FEASIBLE

Whether it's fried mozzarella sticks, fried zucchini, fried ice cream or a French fry, they're all soaking in bad fats. If you've gotta have it, order the smallest portion possible and go with only one fried thing in your meal. Order grilled chicken rather than breaded. Or get a baked potato instead of fries. Steamed and sauteed items are smart choices, too.

GETTIN' SAUCY

Creamy, cheesy sauces are code words for calorie-laden belly-bloaters. Foods like fettuccini Alfredo or cream of crab soup are loaded with fat. If you must indulge, get a side or half order. Or split it with your best friend. If you order a main course with a rich sauce, ask for it on the side--then you can use it for flavor ... sparingly. Smart-choice sauces? Marinara, salsa or vinaigrette.

HAVE SALAD SMARTS

Many fast-food joints offer salads, but don't be fooled. Piled with croutons, bacon bits and creamy dressing, salads are as fattening as a Big Mac. And the ones in a fried-tortilla "bowl"? Way high in fat! Get dressing on the side, or go for olive oil and vinegar. Your hang has a salad bar? Pile on the veggies, beans and dark green lettuces, like nutritious spinach. Oh, and just a small spoonful of mayo-drenched potato or tuna salad.

GOT WATER?

Skip the high-in-sugar soda. Instead, quench your summer thirst by downing [H.sub.2]O or a low-cal drink like unsweetened iced tea. Bottoms up!

Q & A

I've noticed some fastfood places stopped super-sizing. But aren't those better deals?

Say "no" to super-size! Restaurants try to trick you out of a little more money in exchange for a lot more food. But the more food you have, the more you'll eat, even if you're full. And beware of all-you-can-eat specials. Do you really need to devour two dozen fried shrimp? Sure, it's more bang for your buck--but why spend more to fill your face? Eat 'til you're satisfied, not stuffed.
RESTAURANT BAD BETTER BEST

 Double Whopper Whopper Junior Chicken Whopper
Burger King with cheese and without mayo (160 calories,
 mayo (1060 (310 calories, 3.5 grams of fat)
 calories, 69 13 grams of fat) Original Recipe
 grams of fat)

 Chicken Pot Pie Tender Roast Chicken Breast
 KFC (770 calories, Sandwich without
 40 grams of fat) (390 calories, skin or breading
 19 grams of fat) (140 calories,
 3 grams of fat)

 Double Quarter 10-piece Chicken Hamburger
McDonald's Pounder with McNugget (260 calories,
 cheese (420 calories, 9 grams of fat)
 (730 calories, 24 grams of fat)
 40 grams of fat)

 Meatball Cheese Steak Veggie Delite
 Subway Marinara 6-inch sub 6-inch sub
 6-inch sub (360 calories, (230 calories,
 (560 calories, 10 grams of fat) 3 grams of fat)
 24 grams of fat)

 Taco Salad with Gordita Fresco-Style
 Taco Bell salsa Supreme-Beef Crunchy Taco
 (830 calories, (310 calories, (150 calories,
 43 grams of fat) 16 grams of fat) 7 grams of fat)

 Homestyle Homestyle
 Chicken Fillet Chicken Strips Jr. Hamburger
 Wendy's sandwich (410 calories, (280 calories,
 (540 calories, 18 grams of fat) 9 grams of fat)
 22 grams of fat)
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Title Annotation:IT'S FAST, IT'S FUN, BUT IS IT GOOD FOR YOU?
Publication:Girls' Life
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:758
Previous Article:Be a hot beauty: old-school beauty booty for a sizzlin' summer.
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