Our South African Fast Food Menu

It’s almost impossible not to find yourself eating fast food at least once a month.

Fast food is convenient and most importantly – it’s cheap. However, finances do not excuse a poor diet. Fast foods are high in calories and are filled with fat, sugar and salt. These factors contribute to obesity, which comes with its own health issues – mainly high blood pressure and heart diseases.

In the case that you find yourself in a fast food restaurant, there are healthier options on which to choose from. We spoke to two health nutritionists on what to order when passing the drive-through.

Celynn’s Fast Food Menu

Celynn Morin is a registered dietitian who looked at three local fast food restaurants and chose the healthiest meals. Her fast food restaurants were Steers, Debonairs and Rocomamas.

1. Steers

Steers is known for its burger meals – which aren’t necessarily healthy. According to Celynn, with the cheeseburger and chips meal- the roll and the chips equal double the starch recommendation for a healthy meal. A chicken burger isn’t healthier as it’s been cooked with oil and is larger than a beef patty. Furthermore, vegetarian burgers can contain more fat than its meaty counterparts and they often have higher levels of sodium. If you were to choose a meat, go for ostrich, as it’s the leanest of them all.

In ordering your burger, Celynn suggests you choose an open burger and eat only half the roll without any chips. This meal will provide the proper amount of starch and protein.  To balance the meal, add a generous salad, using lemon juice as a dressing. Accompany the meal with water or sugar-free cold drink.

fast food | Longevity LIVE

If you’re looking to start your day off in Steers, opt for muesli due to its fiber content. Try not to add honey to the muesli as this will just add to the already high carbohydrate content.

Aside from the burgers and breakfast options, Celynn suggest the following;

  • Classic eggs on toast
  • Cheese and tomato omelet
  • Feel good breakfast with plain yogurt
  • Chicken Grill with no chips
  • Salads with minimal dressing

2. Debonairs

A large pizza is equivalent to almost four high-fat meals without vegetables. This can be because of the base and toppings. The base is made from flour that is high in carbohydrates. The protein, stemming from cheese and meat, is high in fat and the rest of the fat can be found in the toppings. The pizza also provides more sodium than the daily recommendation of 2500mg.

Choose the real deal pizza with a thin and crispy base. Your choice toppings should be vegetables – mushrooms, fresh chili, rocket, salsa and even egg and feta. The vegetables toppings will reduce the fat content.

Once you’ve opened your pizza box, indulge yourself with two slices only. The slices will provide you will all the necessary carbohydrates, protein and fat. Order a salad as a starter and this will provide the vegetable content. You can take the remaining slices home and add each slice as the starch for your meals.

3. Rocomamas

If you’re in the mood for fried chicken, Celynn warns that three pieces accompanied by chips is equivalent to more than three meals.  The energy from the meal, about 5000kj, is the daily energy allowed for a woman on a slimming diet. Also, the crumb coating is equal to a whole slice of bread and this only adds to the starch value of the meal. The combination of chicken and chips makes the fat content of this meal five times more than recommended.

chicken | Longevity LIVE

If you’re craving chicken, order one piece of chicken along with a generous side salad with an oil-free dressing. Do not order coleslaw as it will only contribute to the fat content.

Aside from the chicken, Celynn suggests the following;

  • Burger – Old School 150g not double up
  • Village Creek Salad
  • Wings

Linda’s Fast Food Menu

Linda Drummond is our second nutritionist and she looked at the menus from Nandos, McDonalds and Roman’s Pizza.

1. Nandos

According to Linda, your healthiest option would be The Nandos Vitality Meal, which is a proper balanced meal. The feta, cranberry and pumpkin seed salad can be chosen as a salad. However, be conscious of the amount of feta and cranberry provided. Lastly, choose still or sparkling water as drink.

2. McDonald’s

When you’re at McDonald’s, order the crispy chicken salad and add the corn cup for carbohydrates. Choose still or sparkling water to go with your meal.

3. Roman’s Pizza

Roman’s does more than pizzas. The salad options – The Health Salad, Chicken and Greek salad – seem like the healthier option, but Linda suggests you inquire about what is included in the salads and ask for you dressing to be served on the side. This will allow you to control how much you add. As always, ask for still or sparkling water for your beverage. With the portion size, Linda recommends that you look at the portion size before deciding to eat the entire meal in one seating.

As the amount of energy in pizza is quite high, Linda compared the amount of energy in pizza slices with that of a single slice of bread.

energy | Longevity LIVE

Eating your fast food meal

When you sit down to eat your meal, make note of the following;

  • Eat slowly and mindfully as it will take 15 to 20 minutes for your brain to tell you you’re full.
  • Try to accompany the meal with a large salad, plenty of cooked vegetables and even a piece of fresh fruit.
  • If you do find yourself over-indulging, ensure that your next meal is a much lighter meal such as a fruit salad or vegetable soup.

Remember, eating a home-cooked meal allows you to have a bigger say on portion control and the ingredients used. Nonetheless, if the craving is too strong – simply try stay away from anything fried.