Diet your way through the Drive-Thru

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I live in my car. While in my vehicle, I literally change, type, talk, read, sleep, and, most importantly, eat.  Anyone that has ever been brave enough to accept a ride in my portable home has seen the crumbs and can often even smell my last “on the go” meal.  I, like so many others, have to deal with the variability of business travel, flexible work days, and the “time is money” attitude that a career in sales demands and our society in general has embraced.  Yes, it would be ideal if I stopped to sit down for a mid-day meal at a reputable restaurant or went home to have some leftovers.  Alternatively, in a perfect world I would have my cooler bags packed with pre-measured portions of chicken, brown rice and broccoli accompanied by morning and afternoon snacks to ensure I can eat every two to three hours.  I have not once packed a cooler bag of chicken and do not intend to do so in the near future.  I am not perfect and that’s life.

My strategy on the road is simple: I do not go without eating (very rarely do I have longer than 3 hours between meals) and make the best choices I can given the circumstances.  I need fuel to maintain my energy and my brain power.  I have my vehicle fully stocked with protein bars, shakes, nuts and fruit to keep me going.  However, there are days when I do hit a drive-thru and I have become a master at quickly making the most nutritious selection based on satiety, taste, protein content, calories and ability to consume while driving.  I have tried chilli and I will be the first to admit that it fails the latter (and most important!) component.  The top things to think about when placing your order are 1) go grilled, 2) watch the sauce, 3) whole wheat  and 4) extra veggies.  There is little that can be done about the extra sodium packed into fast food, so do your best to increase your water intake throughout the day.

Whether it’s work, vacation, or the immediate need for fuel that has you hitting up the drive through, here is a list of my favourite nutritious (enough) picks to get you through your day.  By combining one of these choices with your “car stock snacks” you should be able to carry on without completely veering off your nutrition game plan.  There are slight modifications to some of the choices so make sure you speak up!

1.  Tim Horton’s: Breakfast Panini (multigrain flatbread, egg white, cheese, no meat)
– 210 calories, 26 carbs, 13 g protein, 7 g fat

2. McDonald’s: Sweet Chili Chicken Wrap (grilled chicken, no garlic sauce)
– 340 calories, 42 carbs, 26 g protein, 8 g fat

3. Wendy’s: Grilled Chicken Go Wrap (mustard instead of sauce)
– 225 calories, 23 carbs, 18 g protein, 7 g fat

4. Pita Pit:  Chicken Souvlaki Pita (6 inch whole wheat pita, cheddar cheese, tzatziki sauce)
– 322 calories, 32 carbs, 19 g protein, 12.5 g fat

5.  Orange Julius:  Medium Strawberry Banana Light Smoothie (add protein powder)
-235 calories, 52 g carbs, 8 g protein, 1 g fat

6.  Burger King: Veggie Burger (mustard instead of mayo)
– 270 calories, 42 carbs, 10 g protein, 6 g fat

7.  Subway:  Roast Beef Sub (6 inch whole wheat bread, cheese, mustard)
– 290 calories, 46 carbs, 17 g protein, 4.5 g fat

8. Arby’s:  Roasted Turkey & Swiss (mustard instead of mayo)
– 380 calories, 38 g carbs, 34 g protein, 13 g fat

9.  Taco Time:  Street Taco, Chicken
– 220 calories, 22 g carbs, 22 g protein, 5 g fat

10.  A & W:  Grilled Chicken Delux (mustard instead of mayo)
– 290 calories, 30 g carb, 23 g protein, 9 g fat

So next time someone asks, “Can I take your order?” you will be confident that you have the best answer to this typically loaded question.

Kristen Vidlak is a registered dietician and personal trainer. She grew up as a competetive gymnast and later attended the university of Maine on a full athletic scholarship where she was captain of their record breaking women’s track & field team. Currently, Kristen enjoys modelling and competing in fitness events throughout North America. Her experiences in athletic training and competing, coupled with her dietetic education give Kristen a unique and well-rounded perspective when it comes to health in fitness.

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