The fast food drive-thru is a death trap. Yes, it’s that bad. In a multi-center study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute published in The Lancet, those who eat at fast-food restaurants more than twice a week compared to less than once a week gained an extra 10 pounds and were on the downhill road to diabetes and heart disease with a two-fold greater increase in insulin resistance. 

Although fast food restaurants may offer some healthy eating options, it is very difficult to leave the drive-thru with a healthy meal.  The majority of the food is loaded with fat and sodium.  Many of these meals provide an entire day’s worth of calories!  It’s just better to avoid it altogether.

Instead, spend a few minutes the night before and plan ahead.  Here are some easy ways to avoid the fast food drive-thru.

Easy Breakfast Ideas – Busy people often hit the drive-thru for breakfast because they “didn’t have time to make breakfast.”  This reasoning may not always be true.  In the 5-10 minutes it takes to get through the drive-thru, you can whip up a yogurt and banana smoothie, toast an english muffin and fry an egg, or smear a tablespoon of peanut butter on a whole wheat waffle and grab a banana to eat on the go.

Easy Lunch Ideas – The lunchtime drive-thru line can be lonnnggg.  All that waiting for a meal that will leave a person tired and sluggish is just a waste of time and unwanted calories.  A little planning the night before can go a long way.  Mix up some tuna or chicken salad and pair it with whole wheat crackers.  Corral some leftovers from dinner into a container for reheating at work.  Keep a can of vegetable soup in your desk drawer.  Chop up some romaine lettuce, cucumber and bell pepper for a colorful salad, and top it with slices of low-sodium lunch meat and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Easy Snacks – Schedules get interrupted and rearranged, and at times you may find yourself away from home or work when you would normally be enjoying a meal.  Don’t crater and do the drive-thru!  Keep a box of cereal bars or other easy to keep snacks in your car or purse.  Sometimes all you need is a small snack to keep you going until you can get to your next meal.

While no one would raise their hand and choose a future of diabetes or heart disease, the reality is that every day millions “raise their hand” by driving through the fast-food drive-thru.  Avoiding the fast-food drive-thru death-trap will lead to a healthier body and, most likely, a longer life.  We owe it to our ourselves, and to our families, to choose a healthier way of eating.  Say it with me, “Don’t do the drive-thru!”

So how do you avoid the drive-thru? Share your tips!