Home > Food > Planning Healthy Meals > Dinner > Best Bets for Lunch and Dinner

Best Bets for Lunch and Dinner

Fast-Food Restaurants

Obviously, you don't go to a fast-food restaurant for gourmet dining (at least, we hope not!). But we assume you eat at them every now and then. We do, too. They're convenient, inexpensive, and fast. You don't have to give up going to fast-food restaurants to reach your ideal size, but you do need to eat smart. For starters, ignore the “fast-food” label. Eat just as slowly as you do at other meals so that you taste the food, digest it well, and feel your hunger numbers—before, during, and afterward.

The Usual Drive-Thru's or Eat-In's

Good choices at burger and chicken places include the following:

  • Hamburger or cheeseburger (preferably toss the bun and eat the rest with a plastic fork)
  • Salad
  • Fried chicken (preferably remove the skin)
  • Fried fish, hold the bun
  • Orange juice
  • Fresh fruit
  • Coleslaw

Poorer choices include the following:

  • French fries
  • Milk shakes
  • Diet sodas, colas, and pop
  • Anything supersized

Delis and Sandwich Shops

These offer fast food with some interesting and healthy choices. Good choices include the following:

  • Whole-wheat or low-carb wraps filled with meat, cheese, and lots of fresh veggies such as tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, green peppers, and onions, as well as condiments such as black olives, pickles, and jalapeño chiles. You can open the wrap and eat the insides with a plastic fork. Yummy.
  • A meatball sandwich with all the veggies and condiments. Eat with a fork, hold the bread.
  • Any sandwich, hold the bread, with a couple of potato chips and a pickle.
  • A piece of fresh fruit.

Poorer choices include the following:

  • Eating all the bread on a sub (way too many carbs and way too high-glycemic!)

Popular Specialty Eateries

Now let's talk about salad-bar restaurants and pizza parlors. Both are tricky to eat at healthfully and attain your ideal size.

Salad-Bar Restaurants

Weighty Warning

Right now, picture your plate when you've been through the salad bar line. Does it look like a colorful mountain capped with enough salad dressing to ski down? Oops. Not good. Some salad dressing is good, but too much is ridiculous.

At these restaurants, you can choose from a wide offering of fresh fruits and vegetables that your body wants and needs. Plus, you get to select just exactly what you want to eat and how much. So what's not to like? The answer: the lack of enough high-quality complete protein.

Often you'll find sliced hard-boiled eggs and cheese, but salad bars seldom offer meat or fish. You'll find it hard to consume at least 15 grams of protein. You may be able to find shreds of meat or seafood in a pasta salad. Skip the white-flour pasta and baked white potatoes.

Good choices include the following:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Protein offerings such as hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and meat toppings
  • Olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • Moderate amounts of salad dressings, meaning 2 to 3 tablespoons

Poorer choices include the following:

  • Mayonnaise-based salads with pasta or potatoes
  • Baked potatoes
  • Starchy dessert offerings
  • Loading up on salad dressing
  • Low-fat salad dressings


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

earth day

celebrate our
planet with
these activities
and crafts.



Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.