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Learning to balance convenience or fast foods with other meals

fast foods

The trouble with many fast foods is that they tend to be high in fat, salt or sugar, or all three, and often do not provide a balanced meal. The pros and cons of some popular meals are discussed, and the ‘Healthy Balance’ column suggests a suitable second meal for that day which will compensate for any nutritional deficiencies or excesses.

Fish and Chips:

Advantages This meal is good source ofvitamins B6 and B12; high inprotein and carbohydrate; contains some calcium,phosphorus, manganese, iron,thiamin and potassium.
Disadvantages High in fat but low in fibre; low in vitamins A, C, D, folate and beta carotene.  Depending on the portion size, the meal contains between a third and a half of the recommended daily amount of fat.
Healthy Balance Salad made with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, feta cheese, olive oil and lemon juice: this is low in calories but contains vitamins C, E, folate and beta carotene.

Sandwich and Apple :

Advantages This depends on the type of bread, the filling, and the amount of filling used.  Tuna and lettuce on wholemeal bread, and an apple with its skin, offers a balanced meal, with some useful fibre.
Disadvantages Again, this depends on the filling; a prawn and mayonnaise sandwich on buttered bread has double the calories and three times the fat of the tuna salad version.
Healthy Balance Beef stew with mashed potatoes and carrots: high in protein and beta carotene.  The beef is also a good source of B vitamins, iron, potassium and zinc.

Pizza :

Advantages Depends on the topping.  High in carbohydrate; a wholemeal base increases fibre.  A cheese and tomato topping provides protein, vitamin E, calcium and phosphorus.
Disadvantages Often high in fat and low in protein; sometimes high in sodium; if topped with blue cheese, salami, pepperoni or ham, the fat level is increased and the salt can be as much as doubled.
Healthy Balance Chicken and vegetablecasserole: high protein from chicken, beta carotene from carrots; fibre and vitamin C from vegetables.

Doner Kebab in Pitta:

Advantages Good protein, iron and zinc; a balanced meal containing folate, vitamin C and beta carotene if plenty of salad incorporated in pitta.
Disadvantages Often fatty, as outlets may use cheap cuts of high-fat lamb; low in fibre, vitamin A, D, E and folate.  A possible food-poisoning risk.
Healthy Balance Kedgeree made with brown rice, and a green salad: this is a low-fat meal providing moderate protein, good fibre and vitamins B and C.

 Beef Burger, Chips And Milk Shake:  

Advantages High protein, carbohydrates and calcium; contains vitamin A, phosphorus, vitamin B12 and riboflavin.
Disadvantages High in fat, especially saturated fat; high in cholesterol, sodium and possibly artificial colours and flavourings; low in fibre and vitamin C.
Healthy Balance

Wholemeal pasta salad with a selection of raw or lightly steamed fresh vegetables: pasta provides fibre; vegetables supply vitamin C and beta carotene; broccoli is a source of iron.

Heat-And-Eat Chicken Curry and Rice:

Advantages High in protein, high in carbohydrates; source of B vitamins, phosphorus and zinc.
Disadvantages High in calories and probably fat; low in vitamin C due to lack of vegetables; low in dietary fibre; high in sodium.
Healthy Balance

Herb omelette with wholemeal bread and tomato and watercress salad: this meal is low in calories and moderate source of fibre; it provides protein, beta carotene, vitamins A, C, and D, as well as B vitamins.

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