Healthy Fast Food Options for Teens

This is something I’m regularly asked in practice by the teens I see, “Making nutritious choices when at home is easy, but what should I choose when I’m out with friends and we’re getting take-away?”.

It’s easy to be tempted when you’re eating away from home — especially if everyone around you is chowing down on unhealthy options. But eating too much fast food or always choosing high-fat, high-sugar, no nutrient options can drag a person’s body down. Sure, the most obvious problem is weight gain, but because the food we eat affects how our bodies function, eating foods that lack nutrients can influence any number of things – concentration and focus, learning ability, memory, emotional well-being, strength and energy. It’s easier than you think to make nutritious choices when getting take-away. Most take away places offer healthy choices that are also tasty. I asked the teens I see in practice to share their favourite hangouts so I could check out their menus and share the best of their options with you. This is what made the list!

  • Japanese – Sashimi, sushi (with brown rice if possible) and teppanyaki grilled meats are all great choices. Try a brown rice sushi bowl which is kind of like a poke bowl.
  • Chinese – Choose tasty stir fries packed with plenty of colourful veggies. Swap the fried rice for steamed. Go for anything steamed like fish with veggies. Avoid anything deep fried, yep sadly spring rolls are off the menu!
  • Zambrero’s – These Burritos are packed with protein rich beans, black rice, a choice of salads, guacamole and tomato salsa. With all this there’s no need for sour cream!
  • Thai – Go for Larb Gai (tasty chicken mince in lettuce cups) or Larb Beef. A Tom Yum soup is another healthy option if you don’t mind a bit of spice!
  • Italian – Choose a thin crust pizza and load it with extra veggie toppings. Choose tomato-based sauces instead of creamy ones.
  • Nando’s – Order your chicken as spicy as you like it and then order a side of broccolini. Share your fries with a friend. Nando’s do poke bowls too! Add chicken to the Power Up Bowl for a delicious but nourishing meal.
  • Indian – Go for oven baked dishes like a good tandoori chicken. Choose tomato or yoghurt based dishes like a Rogan Josh. Cucumber raita is a healthy side dish.
  • Vietnamese – There’s nothing like a warming bowl of pho with a side of fresh rice paper rolls to hit the spot. With plenty of fresh veggies, herbs and spices, this Vietnamese dish can provide an awesome balanced, yet totally satisfying meal.
  • Grill’d – Try the Nourish & Flourish or the Grilled Veggie Burger. Both packed full of protein, good fats and loads of vegetables.
  • Kebabs – Choose wholegrain pitta with chicken, lamb or beef, instead of processed meat. Skip the mayo and chips.

Wherever you end up eating, always try to go for balance and see if you can include the BIG FOUR. A little bit of protein (like fish, chicken or beans), some good fats (like avocado), lots of vegetables (fries don’t count!) and wholegrains (like a wholegrain roll or brown rice). That’s why a chicken burger on a whole grain roll packed full of salad is a better choice than a cheeseburger on a white bun. Thirsty? Soft drink, fruit juices and energy drinks are packed full of empty calories, not to mention other stuff, like caffeine. Your body won’t feel great for having them so just choose water. It can be easy to eat well, even when out with your mates. You can always find healthier choices on a takeaway menu if you know what to look for. Your body will love you for it!