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020425 Fast-Food Offers Healthy Options

April 11, 2002

Cleveland, OH (NewsNet5) - When you're on the run, fast food is sometimes your only choice when you're really hungry.

But if you're watching your weight, it's probably the worst choice.

But NewsChannel5's Alicia Booth reported that you can hit the drive-thru and not eat too many calories and fat grams.

Nutritionist Mary Beth Cavanaugh of University Hospitals is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to calories and fat grams.

"When you're going through the drive-thru, you're in a hurry, and you're usually starved, and so a little damage control and thinking about what you're going to order before you get there would be a good idea," she said.

NewsChannel5 visited three of the biggest fast-food restaurants, McDonalds, Arby's and Wendy's.

What Booth did was what most people do when they're hungry -- ordered what sounded good, not what seemed the lowest in calories or fat.

At McDonald's, Booth ordered a Quarter Pounder with cheese, a medium Coke and supersize fries.

Supersize, by the way, is not your friend.

"The fries, they supersize the sandwiches, and that's where a lot of extra calories and fat grams can really rack up quickly," Cavanaugh said.

The meal has 1,350 calories and 59 grams of fat.

But if you get the Happy Meal, you might be happier later. It has only 475 calories and 20 grams of fat.

At Arby's, Booth ordered a roast beef with cheese, curly fries, a Coke and Horsey sauce.

The total: 1,055 calories and 44 grams of fat.

Cavanaugh figured that the new Market Fresh Turkey Swiss would be better, but it turned out that the sandwich is 760 calories and 33 grams of fat all by itself.

Opt for the light grilled chicken instead -- it's 280 calories and 5 grams of fat. Also, go for the regular fries instead of the curly ones, and get a Diet Coke. That meal would total 580 calories and 18 grams of fat.

At Wendy's, Booth ordered a double classic cheeseburger, fries and a small Frosty.

The meal totaled almost 1,500 calories and 64 grams of fat.

Where did she go wrong?

"Right away, that extra amount of meat adds an extra 300 calories to your order," Cavanaugh said.

Instead, try a grilled chicken sandwich, an iced tea and a side salad, but treat yourself with the real Italian dressing -- not the low-cal stuff.

The grand total is only 555 calories and 27 grams of fat.

Cavanaugh said that the bottom line is to think before you order.

If you want to do a little research on your own, most fast-food restaurants will give you a nutrition guide if you ask for one.


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