Fast Food

"Hey, Not So Fast!"

"Well, they don't call it fast food for nothing. Fast business for fast people equals fast bucks in the pocket for these whopping franchises. Believe me, they know the scenario all to well. "

It is a safe assumption that Ronald McDonald is too busy tallying up how many trillion hamburgers he's served up. The Wendy's guy, Dave what's-his-name, would rather help the old lady at the drive-thru find the beef. And the short, chubby guy with the apron? He's somewhere out back, no doubt, making the early-morning doughnuts, the dark circles forming under his eyes.

Well, they don't call it fast food for nothing. Fast business for fast people equals fast bucks in the pocket for these whopping franchises. Believe me, they know the scenario all to well.

You're whipping down that busy highway, late for an appointment or in a hurry to get to work. Or maybe you're on your way home, knowing well that your refrigerator is as empty as your stomach. Maybe you just don't have the energy to even twist the oven knob.

Nonetheless, you can't help but become drawn to that sign like a horseshoe magnet. Your car dips over the break in the road and your eyes are instantly mesmerized by the golden arches that seem to stretch halfway toward heaven.

You know that Ronald and Grimace and the Hamburgler and those fuzzy, little creatures could care less about the diet your on or the aspirations you hold to deflate the spare tire around your waist.

No, they could give a McNugget. But at times like these, neither do we, as we sharply cut the wheel and screech into the parking lot.

Sometimes theres just no other choice.

But before you go making Big Macs out of doughnut holes, remember, not everything you take out of these tiled establishments has to turn out as a Whopper-sized indulgence. Here's what we mean:

McDONALD'S: The home of the Big Mac and the Filet of Fish has flown the coop. The chicken coop, that is. That's because the relatively new Grilled Chicken Deluxe, without the fattening mayonnaise, stores only - get this - five grams of fat! And it's delicious!

Other wise choices on the menu would be the Grilled Chicken Salad Deluxe with Red French Dressing and an 8-ounce container of Low Fat Milk (12 grams of total fat). Or maybe a four-piece order of Chicken McNuggets, a garden salad with fat-free vinaigrette dressing, and an iced tea (11 grams of total fat). For the breakfast crowd, the low-fat apple bran muffin or the hotcakes (without butter, obviously) are wise choices.

BURGER KING: "Have it your way."

Fine, then gimme a BK Broiler with no mayo (just 9 grams of fat), a BK Side Salad (3 grams of fat) and a strawberry shake (6 grams of fat). Next time, I'll give the BK Broiled Chicken Salad (10 grams of fat) a shot or maybe the BK Garden Salad (5 grams of fat).

WENDY'S: What other fast-food joint sells baked potatoes? 'Nuff said. Hold the butter and the sour cream and you have yourself a wonderful, fat-free source for carbohydrates. Wendy's also has a grilled chicken sandwich that is healthy if you specify the "no mayo, please."

Also, if you have time to unfasten the seatbelt and take a stroll inside, many Wendy's establishments offer a fabulous salad bar, where you can put your healthy diet into your own hands.

DUNKIN' DONUTS: Slam dunk the jelly doughnuts and try some of DD's new low-fat muffins. The low-fat version of Blueberry, Cherry, Apple & Spice, Banana, and Cranberry Orange pack only a gram and a half of fat each, while the Bran Low-fat Muffin holds just one. Even the Low-fat Chocolate Muffin stores a mere 2.5 grams of the fatty stuff. If muffins aren't your thing, most bagels served at DD's range between a gram or two per fat for each bagel. Dunkin's also offers low-fat cream cheese if you can't bear to eat it plain.

DOMINO'S PIZZA: Okay. So maybe you're home now from a brutal day at the office and into the company of your fridge, your stove, and your oven. But really, the last thing you feel like hearing is the clanging of pots and pans. You just slipped off that heavy coat or out of those uncomfortable heels and now you've sunk into the sofa. The telephone is an arm's length away. Your mind says 'no' but you're tummy is definitely saying 'yes'.

Well, Domino's isn't that bad. It could be worse.

Two slices from a large cheese pizza total 9.88 grams of fat. Not the end of the world. Two average pieces of their delicious buffalo wings combine for 4.78 grams of fat. Not the end of the world. Two of their crispy, delicious breadsticks total 6.68 grams of fat. Not the end of the world.

As for a large, thick-pan, four-topping pizza? Well, that's the end of this story.

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