It's Saturday night. You get a text from your friends in a group chat. They all want to make plans to go out for some grub, and they're throwing out fast-food names left and right. Now you're thinking, "What are my options? I could just pretend I never read the messages and call it a night early. No, that's not right to do. Well, I could say I'm not hungry and just go to hang out. But that won't work because I'm actually hungry . . ."
I know this thought process sounds so familiar to anyone starting a new diet or lifestyle to feel more healthy. I honestly love home-cooked meals just as much as eating out, but what I try not to compromise is spending quality time with friends and family just because I might be anxious about how clean restaurant food is. I'm a huge foodie. I love trying new things and indulging here and there as long as I can practice balance.
If you are strictly Paleo or if you are what I call myself — a Paleo-based eater — you can still find your way around fast-food menus easily! Here are seven ways I would order at fast-food chains to make it easy the next time you find yourself at one.
- In-N-Out's Protein-Style Hamburger: This is the only fast-food place I'm really willing to go because I know the quality of ingredients is held to a higher standard, which the Paleo diet emphasizes. I've mastered the order that keeps me feeling full for hours and more than happy. Make it protein style by substituting the bun for a lettuce wrap; ask for ketchup and mustard instead of the spread to avoid dairy; and add chopped chillies, pickles, tomatoes, more lettuce, and optional grilled onions.
- Chick-fil-A's Grilled Nuggets: These are a great option to the breaded and fried nuggets that still taste incredible! It's also only 140 calories and packs 25 grams of protein. Luckily, there's one sauce without any added sugar or dairy, and it's the buffalo sauce. Just pair the nuggets with a side salad and fruit cup, and there you go. You have a solid Paleo meal, Chick-fil-A style.
- Taco Bell's Fiesta Taco Salad: Yes, I was surprised too that Taco Bell has a salad on its menu, but it does come in a huge fried-tortilla bowl. To make it Paleo, ditch that and add seasoned beef, chicken, or steak. Skip the beans, rice, sour cream, cheese, and red tortilla strips. Now add pico de gallo, jalapeño peppers, guacamole, and extra romaine lettuce. Then you can ask for some lime and hot sauce to dress it all.
- Subway's Oven-Roasted Chicken Salad: Subway will be right up your alley if you love all types of veggies in your salad. The Oven-Roasted Chicken Salad is filled with cucumbers, spinach, black olives, green peppers, and tomatoes. You can also customize it to add any other veggies your local Subway has, like carrots or mushrooms, and then it has lots of extras that are Paleo-friendly, like avocado or guacamole. A lot of the sauces have added sugar or dairy again, so to be safe, ask for olive oil, lemon, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.
- McDonald's Salad: It may be hard to believe, but McDonald's has kale! The side salad is your best bet for ordering Paleo without completely changing the order. It has a variety of leafy greens like chopped romaine, baby spinach, baby kale, and red-leaf lettuce with carrots and grape tomatoes. Then just ask for lemon, salt, and pepper for the dressing. Also, you can add protein, like grilled chicken.
- Wawa's Custom Roasted Chicken Salad: Wawa's has your Paleo back with the build-your-own-salad option. You start by picking your greens from kale, romaine, spinach, or spring mix. Then, it has a bunch of options for fresh veggies and roasted veggies, and you can even add a hard-boiled egg. Top it off with balsamic vinegar, and you're all set!
- Chipotle Mexican Grill's Salad: When Paleo, places like Chipotle are amazing because you can build your meal exactly how you want it to fit the diet. Just avoid the rice, beans, tortilla, corn, and anything with dairy, like cheese and sour cream. You can still pile it up with lots of romaine, chicken or steak, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, shredded lettuce, and guacamole. If you are very strict on eating Paleo, it's important to know that most of its proteins are cooked in soybean oil, except the carnitas.