Today is back to school for thousands of students in our area. My girls were out of that door with the quickness.

Speaking of quickness, when school is in, parents are holding down jobs and then add in the afterschool activities, it is so easy to grab some fast food. I’m guilty of it too! But it can also be healthy if we make better choices by following a few fast food rules, according to Dr. Jessica Bartfield, an internal medicine physician who specializes in nutrition and weight management at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System.

Five rules to follow when you’re ordering fast food:

1. Select grilled rather than fried.

A fast-food grilled chicken sandwich has 470 calories and 18 grams of fat, while the fried version has 750 calories and 45 grams of fat.

2. Pass up the cheese, mayonnaise and salad dressings unless low-fat options are available.

Cheese can add an additional 100 calories or more per serving, as does mayonnaise, and you probably won’t miss the taste when ordering the plainer versions.

3. Order the smallest size available.

Go for the single burger rather than the double, and order the small fries rather than the super size.

4. Skip the sugar-sweetened drinks.

Beverages sweetened with sugar don’t have much nutritional value and don’t make you feel more satisfied. In addition, calories from sugar quickly add up, leading to excessive calorie consumption, especially at restaurants offering free and unlimited refills on drinks.

5. Save half of your order for your next meal.

Bring your own take-home dish and scoop half of your food into it before you even take the first bite. This will not only save calories, but also time and money.

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