You wake up with just enough time to cook those last couple of eggs in your carton before you run out the door, almost forgetting to grab your lunch for the day, only to open your fridge and realize that it’s empty because you met your in-laws on the beach this Sunday and didn’t have enough time to get to the grocery store and buy food for the week.
Or after work you get to the gym, do an intense workout and build up a hefty appetite. While on your drive home, you remember that you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw and it will take hours before you can eat your dinner.
In situations like these, it’s easy to stop at the closest fast food restaurant to fill your stomach and fall short of healthy lifestyle expectations. We all know that a processed food item is less healthy than its whole food counterpart. We also know that the goal of most restaurants is to make food that is delicious without regard for how healthy it is. This generally involves adding large amounts of sugar, salt and fat, ingredients our brains are hardwired to seek out and overeat on.
Think about it this way. Have you ever order a medium cheese pizza from Pizza Hut, Dominoes or Papa John’s and eaten the whole thing? A plain, medium cheese pizza contains between 856 - 1000 calories. A cup of broccoli has 30 calories. You’d have to eat over 33 cups of broccoli to equal the amount of calories in that pizza. Can you imagine having to down all that broccoli! You’d be disgustingly full, yet we’re easily able to eat a pizza and down it with a soda.
So, what are you to do when you’re out and about and hungry?
Our first tip is to always have quality food items on hand. Store some jerky or nuts in the center console of your car, in your purse / backpack and at your desk. This way you can always have some food to curb your appetite. Now, when you go into the restaurant, you’ll be more inclined to choose healthier options as you won’t be ravenously hungry.
Certainly not all fast food options are bad and we’ve created a list of our go to options. Our criteria was based on average calories per meal, quality of foods used and price. Relax and enjoy your meal, these companies are doing it right.
Fresh Kitchen, $7-11 (1350 S Howard Ave)
The go to options are sweet potato mash, brussel sprouts and a double scoop of BBQ chicken. Make sure to get the six-bowl to get the most bang for your buck.
Fruitwood, $8-14 (2203 W Swann Ave)
They use all fresh ingredients and have organic juices. You’ll want to try 2 Pac’s 2 Year Turkey Rap... the name says it all.
Fitlife Foods, $4-13 (101 E Kennedy Blvd, 1902B S Dale Mabry Hwy, 504 S Howard Ave)
From Asian Veggie Bowls to Bayou Shrimp and Grits, Fitlife has organic, healthy meals for every time of the day. You can heat one up in store or grab one to go.
Swami Juice, $9-13 (2832 S MacDill Ave)
We’ve tried all of the acai bowls in the area and vote this one as the best. While one of these don’t constitute as an entire meal, it’s a healthy hold-me-over until you can get home and cook.
SoFresh, $8-$11 (533 South Howard Ave)
From salads, wraps and bowls this restaurant has a wide variety of options. All ingredients are clearly displayed and organic varieties are often used.