Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Food in the Fa(s)t Lane: What you need to know to stay healthy

We hear it all the time — Americans are getting fatter by the minute. And while fast food may not be the only reason for obesity in the country, there is evidence that it has a lot to do with it.
Last week, the Johnson City Medical Center’s Health Resources Center Annex at the Johnson City mall was filled with folks concerned about their health. Some were diabetic, others had high blood pressure and heart disease, while still others wanted to learn more about how to live in a fast-paced society without destroying their health.
“My husband Will and I are missionaries,” said LeAnn Vinson, who attended the Food in the Fast Lane lecture. “We travel frequently, and we are interested in making healthier food choices.”
According to Jessica Gourley, the registered dietitian who led the discussion, there are at least 300,000 fast food restaurants in the country, all dedicated to helping Americans get food in a hurry. But what individuals may be trading for the convenience of fast food is their health, Gourley said.
“We all eat out, and fast food restaurants are on just about every street corner,” Gourley said. “Being able to make the right decisions about what you eat can be very important to your health.”
In addition to other issues surrounding fast food, the serving sizes offered up at such restaurants tend to be much larger than an appropriate serving size and contain more sodium and fat than a normal serving. This, Gourley said, leads to overeating.
“You need calories just to sit and listen, and they are in just about everything we eat,” Gourley said. “But if we eat more than we use, it gets stored as fat.”
While overeating can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other health issues, Gourley said it is not necessary to skip eating out altogether — as long as individuals can make informed choices when they order.
According to Gourley, there are some simple ways to make better decisions when ordering fast food. Instead of a double cheeseburger, order a regular hamburger, she said. Also, skip the super-sized options for fries and a drink and you will have cut those excessive calories down from 1,800 to 625 in just one meal, she said.
Other tips include ordering a side salad instead of fries, using only half of the salad dressing packet provided, skipping out on condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup, and using the size of a hand to determine portion sizes.
To help with temptation, Gourley suggested knowing what you are going to order before you reach the window, and keeping your eyes off the fat-filled menu board.