Is it even possible to enjoy fast food on a low-carb vegetarian diet? Sometimes we find ourselves in situations when fast food is the only option, especially if we weren't prepared with packed snacks when the time arrives.
As vegetarians, our selections are already greatly reduced, but eating low carb or keto, makes the challenge that much greater. Of course, eating meat is never an option, but we shouldn't have to pack in unhealthy carbs either. Fast food was never considered the gold standard in health, but sometimes it's the only option. Here are some tips to keep you on track.
Choose "build your own" type options when available. When you have a choice in fast food, such as in food courts, look for the places that let your own like Subway, Pita Pit, Chipotle, Moe's, and Qdoba. At these types of places you can make your food exactly the way you'd like and watch them build it to be sure there is no meat or added carbs and you can ask to load up as much as you like on the good stuff. Most now offer tofu or some type of a veggie burger too!
Look for the green stuff. In addition to the build your own options mentioned above, look for places that will make anything in to a salad. At this point, almost any pizza or sandwich shop is willing to do just that. As you know, avoiding the bread is most of the battle.
Don't be afraid to ask. It's not always specified on the menu, but the recent interest in keto, paleo, and gluten free diets is giving the restaurant industry a lot to consider. Many pizza shops are looking into and offering alternatives for grain free crusts (cauliflower, e.g.), and select fast food stores will create lettuce wraps for veggie patties if you ask. Some fast food and chain restaurants add veggie burgers and/or patties to their menu without even printing the option. It's always good to ask.
Calories are better than carbs. Especially if you are on a low carb diet, and especially if the carbs are sugar! Opt for high (healthy) fat dressings over any that are loaded with sugar (as most are), and always use (healthy) oil and vinegar when nothing else is available.
Carry stevia packets with you. Consider keeping just a few packets of stevia in your purse or wallet. This is great to add to coffee along with whatever healthy fat options the restaurant offers to fill you up and hold you over when no other good options exist.
Don't drive by the gas station. More and more gas stations are becoming full blown fast food joints. While most of the food is greasy, breaded, and made from meat, most of these places will also let you create your own salad or egg bowls. The majority of them have healthy fat options like olives and avocado as toppings, and many of them offer vegetarian protein choices like nut, seed or even veggie burger toppings.
Skip the sugary drinks. Does this even need to be mentioned? Watch for healthy looking waters, teas, and smoothies that can deceive you into thinking they are on plan. They can actually do us more harm than the foods we avoid.