You might expect a healthy living blogger to put fast food on her forbidden list, but in a pinch it's sometimes my only option. But I make sure to stick to these four rules when I pull up to the takeout counter.

January 12, 2010

By Tina Haupert
You've no doubt heard about Taco Bell's new Drive-Thru Diet, and it should be no surprise that the company is pushing the idea in January, when everyone and her mother resolves to lose weight. And just like Subway has Jared, Taco Bell has Christine Dougherty, who claims to have lost 54 pounds by cutting her daily calorie intake and eating fast food from the Drive-Thru Diet menu.

You might expect a healthy living blogger to put fast food on her forbidden list, but in a pinch it's sometimes my only option. And my husband loves the stuff—particularly a sausage, egg, and cheese on a plain bagel from Dunkin' Donuts—so sometimes I just can't avoid it.

So I have to commend places Taco Bell for at least trying to incorporate "healthier" options. McDonald's sliced apples or Burger King's veggie burgers are infinitely better than french fries and Whoppers if you must eat fast food. My fear with the menus like the Drive-Thru Diet, though, is that it will give people another excuse to eat fast food over real food. Having healthy menu options available isn’t going to result in major weight loss for people who are looking to drop some serious pounds. While people like Christine are great to inspire people to make better choices for their health, there is no quick fix for weight loss. So if you're trying to keep that weight-loss resolution for the long haul, this is probably not the plan for you.

(Getty Images)

While I don't eat fast food all that often, I have to admit to occasionally ordering a turkey-bacon-and-egg sandwich from Starbucks or a "skinny" latte from Dunkin' Donuts when I'm in a rush. But I make sure to stick to these four rules when I pull up to the takeout counter:

  • Drink water with your meal. If you’re going to indulge in fast food, skip the soda all together. Even if you order a zero-calorie diet soda, there is nothing nutritious about it!

  • Always order small. This obviously helps reduce unneeded calories and fat. If the “small” isn't actually that small, I'll share it with my husband or take the other half home for later.

  • Nix the extras. For example, if I order an egg sandwich from Starbucks, I will get it without cheese. Same goes with the specialty lattes. If I order a mocha, I don't need to have whipped cream too.

  • Enjoy the splurge—and don’t feel guilty about it! Of course, moderation is key, but if I overdo it, I just get back on track the next day with extra-healthy meals and some exercise.

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.

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