by Wyatt Falcone
With hours of school and activities, not to mention the mountain of homework waiting at home, it’s usually easier to grab a meal from your favorite fast food restaurant. No complaints; it tastes great. However, that quick bite can have terrible consequences.
All fast food restaurants sell some very unhealthy “food.” Panera, which according to Health Magazine is the healthiest fast food restaurant in America, still sells food such as the 700-calorie, 14-ounce Smoked Ham & Swiss Sandwich, which, according to the Nutrition Action Health letter, contains “half-a-days’ worth of saturated fat (10 grams) and a 1½-day supply of sodium (2,350 milligrams).”
If you’re visiting Panera, you’re probably better off with one of their half sandwiches, such as the 340-calorie, 7-ounce Half Napa Almond Chicken Salad on Sesame Semolina, which according to the Panera website has only two grams of saturated fat and 600 milligrams of sodium. If you have some extra time and find that you’re still hungry, try one of their low-fat soups, which usually have around 150 calories, or one of their half salads, such as the 80-calorie Half Classic Café. Just go light on the dressing and condiments.
Other outrageous menu items include IHOP’s Monster Bacon’N’Beef Cheeseburger, described by the Nutrition Action Health letter as “1,250 calories and two days’ worth of saturated fat (42 grams), with a bonus 1,590 milligrams of sodium (a day’s supply, thanks in part to the bacon). And don’t forget the sides, which range from fresh fruit (80 calories) to onion rings (620 calories). That leaves seasoned fries (300 calories) somewhere in the middle.”
In fact, if you want a healthy sandwich at IHOP, your only real option is the 500-calorie SIMPLE & FIT Simply Chicken Sandwich w/Fresh Fruit, which, according to the IHOP website, has 840 milligrams of sodium and 3 ½ grams of saturated fat. Five-hundred calories may sound better than 1,250, but it’s still only 40 less than a McDonald’s Big Mac. All in all, you might want to try the soups instead, such as Chicken Noodle Soup or Minestrone Soup, which are around 180 calories each.
While no list of deadly menu items would be complete without mentioning a 540-calorie McDonald’s Big Mac or a 640-calorie Burger King Whopper, these two fast food giants sell far worse things. There is the 790-calorie Angus Bacon & Cheese from McDonald’s, which, according to the McDonald’s website, has 17 grams of saturated fat and a full 2,070 milligrams of sodium, enough for over 24 hours. And few restaurants can beat Burger King’s 1,230-calorie Triple Whopper with Cheese, which, according to the Burger King website, has 1,550 milligrams of sodium and a “whopping” 32 grams of saturated fat, enough for 1 ½ days!
If you plan on eating healthy at these restaurants, your options are extremely limited. McDonald’s offers a 250-calorie normal hamburger, which you could have with a 190-calorie Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken. Burger King offers the 340-calorie Whopper Jr. and 30-calorie BK Fresh Apple Slices.
Of course, if you really want a healthy meal, you should probably eat at home.