The need for quick, easy and convenient food choices has made fast food restaurants some of the most profitable businesses in the food industry. However, these types of restaurants are also notorious for contributing to the obesity epidemic as well as providing foods that are deficient in nutrients while being extremely high in calories.

Although most people are well aware of these facts, it can be quite hard not to give into temptation every once in a while. Fortunately there are a few ways to make these choices healthier if we take into account a few simple tips.

First of all it’s important to realize that healthy does not necessarily mean low in calories. Although many times cutting calories also makes a certain choice somewhat healthier it is not always the case. While a few simple chances such as replacing soft drinks with unsweetened tea, milk or water can save you a few calories in the process, sometimes a healthy choice will not necessarily be a low in calories. Paying attention to the size, description as well as the dressings of a certain food that might appeal to you are great ways to get more nutrition with less calories.

When it comes to making healthier overall changes and decreasing the amount of calories ingested at the same time, some tips are generally recommended. Aside from replacing soft drinks, skipping mayonnaise and other types of special dressings and replacing them with mustard or ketchup or asking for dressing on the side to be able to control the amount you consume is a good idea.

Also avoiding super sized foods will help you get a better portion control while decreasing the amount of calories you ingest. Whenever possible opting for a grilled version instead of a fried version will be a smart choice that will help you save extra calories along the way. Avoiding extras is another good way to make sure that you keep your portions and the calories in check. Still unsure of what you should order? Here are a few specific examples along with their nutritional info:

Mandarin chicken salad: Offering a variety different vitamins, antioxidants and minerals as well as lean protein sources and mostly unsaturated fat this would be a nutritious and tasty choice. Although it has 540 calories it has about 31 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Even though it has about 25 grams of fat only about 3 grams are saturated fat, which is an important plus.

Bean burrito with cheese: One serving of Bean and Cheese burrito (99 grams) contains only 200 calories and offers about 16% of the recommended daily value of protein as well as a good dose of vitamin A and calcium. It also contains vitamin C and iron in smaller quantities and although it contains 56.05 grams of fat only 3.65 come from saturated fat and it does not contain trans fats. Cholesterol content (14.85 milligrams) and sodium levels ( 620.8 milligrams) are acceptable, making this choice a reasonable one.

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait: If you want something sweet and you need to have a dessert a yogurt and fruit parfait is probably the smartest choice you can make. At a serving size of 3.5 oz this sweet treat only has 160 calories. Offering about 15% of the recommended calcium and vitamin C content and a modest 5 milligrams of cholesterol, this dessert contains about 21 grams of sugar. One of the most nutritious desserts that can be found at fast food restaurants, this dessert can be the perfect healthy alternative to satisfy your sugar cravings.

Large chilli: If you want a satisfying, filling meal for only 330 calories, this is a good choice. With only 9 grams of total fat, 25 grams of protein and 20% of the daily recommended dose of iron and 10% of the recommended dose of calcium it can be a good choice compared to other types of foods that have additional calories. However, it offers about 50% of the total recommended dose of sodium a day which can be a downside if you are used to eat a lot of salty foods.