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Ask the Dietitian: “Sometimes fast food is my only option. What should I stick to?”

Ask the Dietitan

Ask the Dietitian: “Sometimes fast food is my only option. What should I stick to?”

Making the most of a fast-food menu.

Welcome to our series, Ask the Dietitian, where our in-house registered dietitian Kristin Neusel answers all of your burning nutrition and diet-related questions. Kristin is here to inform and empower you in all the food choices you make for yourself.
Interested in submitting a question to Kristin? Email it to her at and we’ll try to answer it in an upcoming post!

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where there’s no choice but to grab something quickly at a fast-food restaurant. However, fast-food items are high in fat, sodium, and sugar.

So how can we make the right choices when in a bind?
  • Plan before you go! If there is a fast-food restaurant you typically prefer, check out their nutrition information online before you go. If there are more than 25 establishments of the same restaurant, it is mandated they provide nutrition information to their customers. You can then look for foods higher in fiber, and lower in fat, sodium, and sugar. 

    • No time to plan? Download the Calorie King app or keep the Calorie King booklet in your car’s glove compartment, purse/bag, or use the app on your phone to quickly find out the nutrition content of the food you’re about to eat.

      • Look for words like: steamed, poached, roasted, grilled, baked, broiled, blackened, made to order. Avoid words like: crispy, fried, breaded, sautéed, buttery, cheesy/au gratin, gravy, creamy. 

        • Go for green salads over greasy burgers. Add some lean protein like grilled chicken to it.

          Opting for whole and natural foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains is always the better choice. These will provide you with fiber, which helps prevent blood sugar spikes and also helps healthy gut bacteria thrive. 

          Fast-food favorites:
          • Chick-fil-A: Pick the grilled chicken nuggets (140 calories, 2 grams of carbohydrates) with a “superfood” side option.

            • McDonald’s: Southwest Grilled Chicken salad without dressing provides 27 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of fiber. Add some low-fat balsamic vinaigrette for only 5 grams of carbohydrates.

              • Chipotle: Snag a salad bowl (romaine lettuce + chicken + brown rice + fajita vegetables + tomato salsa + tomatillo-red chile salsa), which provides 48 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of fiber. 

                • Subway: A 6-inch rotisserie chicken on 9-grain wheat (tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, red onion, cucumbers, and green peppers) has 40 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of fiber.

                  • Taco Bell: Opt for the Vegetarian Double Tostada, which provides 32 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of fiber.


                  Don’t see anything here that satisfies? Pendulum Glucose Control customers can chat with me to get personalized recommendations!