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Fast food chains are not at every corner in my part of town, at least not like most places I have been. This is great; I’m less tempted to make unnecessary stops along my way. I know sometimes it’s just what’s convenient. Now, I’m all about what’s convenient and practical but I try to not compromise that with my health. I have goals that I’ve set for myself. At the age of 30 and just having baby, there is a lot of fear that I have about my health as a whole. I’ve heard all the horror stories about the “dirty 30s.” Having a baby alone takes a traumatic toll on a woman’s body, so I have to commit to self-discipline in order to achieve these goals of mine. Life is crazy busy and trying to sneak in an hour for my “me time” to work out is tricky and is something I’m still trying to figure out. So everything I put in my mouth counts.  

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When I do eat fast food, it’s tricky from the get-go. I have a food allergy that restricts a lot of foods, and the chance of cross contamination is high at fast food restaurants. When I stop, I have to choose wisely. Sometimes it’s too much work. When I do, I often opt for the most flavorful and healthiest option on the menu. Safest bet is a salad. It’s that simple. Not as fulfilling as a meal with nice crispy fries and a juicy burger with a coke. Yes, I know, but it’s the best option for my health goals and conscience. To fluff the salad up a bit, a grilled chicken salad with a tablespoon of my favorite dressing that is low in fat, calories and sugar can make this choice a more exciting one. I like a squeeze of lemon juice and a couple shakes of salt and pepper on my chicken salads, too. Everyone needs a little zest in their life, right?

>> Read more: 10 Disturbing Facts About Fast Food

If there is a variety of different salads, I pick my favorite one that might have fruits, veggies, nuts or seeds and if meat is included, I get a grilled meat. It will look more full, colorful and fluffed, if you will. Presentation, presentation, presentation. Skip the fried stuff. Fried additives look great and all but that’s where their greatness stops. They aren’t very flattering when you feel them brewing up a storm in your stomach. Over time, these carbs end up making your waistline their new home.

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And for those of you who say salads are against your religion, then get your favorite menu item, but keep it small. You only need one serving because, really, is two burgers or a Double Double really what you want to feel in your gut later? Also, take it easy or completely nix the sauces altogether. If a burger is a true tasty burger, all that mayo and ketchup won’t be needed. Another great way to cut out the extra empty carbs is to ask for a lettuce wrap. If I truly splurge and go for the burger, the lettuce wrap is my go-to. I have all the veggies I want like tomatoes, grilled onions and mushrooms. Oh! And jalapeños with mozzarella or swiss cheese. Mmmm! So delicious. Hold off on the sauces, please because, guess what? I don’t even notice they’re not there.

There are options out there; you just have to practice self-discipline, think outside the square boxed menu and consider how you’re going to feel later. Remember, you don’t have to compromise flavor for the healthier options. You can have both at once and not have your stomach hate you later. Be creative! Try something new and guilt-free.