Beyond just checking nutrition facts, there are many other ways to reduce your sodium intake at the drive-through window. This might come as a surprise, but a regular hamburger at most fast-food restaurants contains lower levels of sodium than any other sandwich on the menu! The key is to watch for hidden sources of salt in burger toppings such as ketchup, cheese, bacon and pickles. One packet of ketchup packs 110 milligrams of sodium alone. Leave off these toppings and go for more vegetables, such as lettuce and tomatoes, to add flavor and texture to your burger.
Also, a lot people assume that ordering a salad means ordering healthily. Wrong! Most salad dressings and toppings are the culprit for loads of sodium. To decrease your sodium intake on salads, leave off the salty toppings such as croutons and bacon, and go for light dressing, but use only half the packet. Order your salad without meaty toppings as well. Even grilled chicken can increase the sodium levels of your salad by a few hundred milligrams!
If you must have meat at fast-food restaurants, no matter where you go, opt for grilled chicken instead of fried. For an even more balanced meal, cut your chicken portion in half and round out your meal with a side salad, fruit cup or baked potato.
Other ways to slash sodium? Drink water instead of soda, and try to avoid french fries, especially if the restaurant can't fill your request for an unsalted serving. Most condiments, such as barbecue sauce, contain 200 milligrams of sodium or more. Choose low-sodium condiments, such as honey, which actually contains no salt.
No matter where you choose to eat, there are plenty of low-sodium options to help keep your body healthy. Equip yourself with positive knowledge about foods and their sodium levels before you hit the drive-through, and you'll be prepared to order the foods that are best for you. In our opinion, that's the best defense against the tempting smell of french fries!
- Magee, Elaine. "21 Healthier Fast Food Meals." (Nov. 11, 2010). http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/21-healthier-fast-food-meals
- Main, Emily. "Four Ways to Order Low-Sodium Fast Food." Rodale. May 3, 2010. (Oct. 27, 2010). http://www.rodale.com/fast-food-sodium?page=0%2C1
- Mayo Clinic. "Sodium: How to tame your salt habit now." May 22, 2010. (Nov. 5, 2010).http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sodium/NU00284
- McDonalds. "McDonald's USA Nutrition Facts for Popular Menu Items." (Oct. 27, 2010). http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/nutritionfacts.pdf
- Parks, Robin. "Low salt diets: Eating Out." WebMD. Aug. 25, 2008. (Oct. 27, 2010). http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/eating-out-when-you-are-on-a-low-sodium-diet
- UCSF Medical Center. "Healthier Fast Food." Oct. 29, 2010. (Nov. 11, 2010). http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/healthier_fast_food/index.html