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Just another reason to start cooking more often, or choose nutritious cafes that won’t wreak havoc on your health

Higher calories, more sodium, bigger portions. These are some of the findings of a study that looked at how menu items of 10 popular fast food chains — Arby’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr, Dairy Queen, Hardee’s, Jack in the Box, KFC, Long John Silver’s, McDonald’s and Wendy’s — have changed in the past 30 years.

Researchers looked at each restaurant’s food in 1986, 1991 and 2016.

No wonder a lot of Americans for whom fast food is a staple dietary choice are getting sicker and fatter year after year. No offense.

Lead investigator of the study, Megan A. McCrory, PhD, at the Department of Health Sciences at Boston University, Boston, MA said: “Given the popularity of fast food, our study highlights one of the changes in our food environment that is likely part of the reason for the increase in obesity and related chronic conditions over the past several decades, which are now among the main causes of death in the US.”

The study found that the sodium of entrees, sides and desserts all increased significantly. Additionally, the calorie content of desserts showed the largest spike, increasing 62 calories each decade. That’s nearly 200 calories extra you’re eating now than thirty years ago. And, since we’re talking about desserts, those calories are likely in the form of sugar and other sweeteners.

We’ve all been there. Running from one meeting to the next, working under tight deadlines and grabbing whatever fast food comes in our way first. Or, trying to juggle multiple jobs and projects during the day, and the last thing we want is spend time prepping, cooking then cleaning the kitchen. So, we grab something to go as we head home.

It’s fast and convenient, but do you ever ask yourself the questions: Is it nutrient-rich or does it just taste good? Do I know the ingredients the food contains and how it’s made? Are they contributing to my good health or perhaps future health problems?

Fast-food restaurants are on the rise globally and are a favorable food choice for many. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, about 37 percent of adults consume fast foods on any given day in the US, and that increases to 45 percent for adults aged 20 to 39.

Not surprising that obesity numbers have also increased in the past three decades. In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s, the CDC report shows.

Okay, so let me give you a few tips to healthier fast food spots.

Fast and healthy food spots in Los Angeles

Bulletproof Cafe

This place is one of my favorites. Each meal is freshly prepared with exceptional ingredients. They don’t cook with unhealthy oils, like canola or corn oil, but use olive oil or avocado oil instead. The meat, eggs and veggies are also organic and high-quality. Think  grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, organic, pastured-raised eggs and organic greens. They also have a few sweet bites which are always refined-sugar and gluten-free. The salmon with turmeric rice and veggies is my personal favorite.

Sweetgreen

Credit: @sweetgreen

If you like salads, then this is the place to go. All the ingredients are right in front of you under a glass counter. I find that very important when it comes to leafy green, so you can see how fresh they are. There’re a variety of warm bowls with greens and grains, plus your choice of protein. And, vegan options are also available. As much as it’s healthy and “just” a salad, I sometimes struggle finishing it all. They give you a ton of greens.

 

 

Wanderlust Cafe

Credit: @Wanderlusthlwd

It’s located at the Wanderlust Hollywood, where the yogi-inspired decor and vibe give you an overall Zen experience. It’s in Hollywood but the pleasant outside seating grabs you out of the busy city. You’ll find local, organic, free-range chicken & eggs, wild salmon, seasonal soups and broths, salads, and bowls, all prepared with tasty flavors. There are a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options as well.

 

 

 

Cafe Gratitude

Credit: @cafegratitude

You’ll seriously be thankful for discovering this place. It has a very lovely ambiance. As soon as you walk through the door an instant feeling of “this is going to be healthy” rushes through your body. It’s a fully plant-based organic cafe, so if you’re hungry for meat, this isn’t for you. They do serve however, plenty of different starters, salads, bowls, burgers and wraps, and use organic, local ingredients many from artisan producers.

 

 

Urth Caffé

Credit: @urthcaffe

Brunch anyone? Urth Caffé it is. This cafe’s mentality goes “farm to table.” They use locally-sourced, sustainable and, as much as possible, organic ingredients to cook with. No GMOs or artificial ingredients, which is great, because you need none of those in your diet. They have several meat options along with salads and even pizza. Plus, there’s a long list of delicious meals for breakfast too. If you’re in a rush, you could just call ahead, pick up and be on your way. Or even better, have it delivered to your home.

 

Earth Bar

Credit: @earthbar

You often find this place next to an Equinox gym. If nothing else, then that alone should be a screaming sign that it’s good for you. I’ve only had their shakes, and I approve. They were delicious and I was able to swap ingredients in and out to fit my needs. They do offer grab-to-go meals, which seemed good, but I haven’t tried them. The acai bowls are also made fresh, but in my opinion, they can spike your blood sugar a bit too much.