by Associate Clinician Kate McNerney

Life can be crazy! We all have those days, or even those weeks, where we feel like prepping, planning, and pre-thinking our meals is near to impossible. Many of my clients will come in and ask the same question: “Where can I go and grab a quick meal when I am on the go?” Here are my thoughts on some popular fast-food chains that you may or may not have slipped into on one of your busier days!

Chipotle
“We’re all about simple, fresh food without artificial flavors or fillers. Just genuine raw ingredients and their individual, delectable flavors. We source from farms rather than factories, and spend a lot more on our ingredients than many other restaurants. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”    – Chipotle.com

Chipotle is my favorite on this list, and not just because I love Mexican food. The integrity of the company stands above the rest. The ingredients they use are from “meticulously sourced meats and produce.” What does this mean? It means that Chipotle sources from farms where the produce is grown in healthy soil and the proteins are pasture-raised. This is a HUGE plus in regards to the quality of food you are getting and putting in your body.

Another amazing factor – every item in the kitchen is GMO-free! In a world where GMO foods are prevalent in the majority of restaurants, both fast-food and high-class, it is pleasantly surprising to have a restaurant where ALL items are GMO-free. Also, it is important to note that, other than the Sofritas, all items on the menu are also soy-free.

Chipotle believes the quality of foods used not only impacts the consumer but the environment and suppliers alike.

Meal Idea: Burrito bowl, minimum or no brown rice, fajita veggies, beans, protein of choice, guacamole, salsa, and lettuce.

Panera Bread
“We are committed to removing artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and flavors along with colors from artificial sources from the food in our bakery-cafes by the end of 2016.”    – Panerabread.com

I am no stranger to the quick grab of a Panera Bread salad. I respect Panera for the direction they are trying to go. According to their website, they believe in clean foods and sourcing high-quality ingredients. The chicken used is natural and antibiotic free, 89% of the beef is pasture raised, and by 2020, they commit to having all of the eggs cage-free. They even have what they refer to as a “No-No” list, which indicates ingredients and/or chemicals they have removed or are in the process of removing from their foods. Included on the list are: aspartame, silicones, sucralose, and maltodextrin. Panera Bread is committed to not having artificial additives, sweeteners, flavors, colors, or preservatives in their items. They even stopped buying generic dressings and started making their own brand.

Seems great, right? Not so fast….

Though there are many seemingly wonderful options on the menu, most items contain some form of GMO-products. Soy or soybean oil, canola oil, corn oil, or vegetable oil is in almost every item. And if there isn’t a GMO, then there is a pasteurized dairy component in the food.

Is Panera an okay option for a quick and semi-healthy meal? Sure… just be smart with what you choose.

Menu Idea: Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa, add chicken, and skip the dressing. Just ask for some lemons to squeeze over top.

Chick-Fil-A
A lot of people have been frequenting Chick-Fil-A for its “healthier” options. But do you really know what is in the chicken you love so much? Chick-Fil-A chickens eat a grain mixture of corn, wheat, and soy. This means that each chicken is eating a diet of heavily genetically modified foods. I recommend staying away from this option!

Bryn and Dane’s
This is an up and coming fast food restaurant to watch. Bryn and Dane’s is committed to healthy foods on the go! Some menu items include: acai bowls, chia pudding bowls, smoothies, salads, and wraps. Bryn and Dane’s strives to use local ingredients in their restaurants. Current locations exist in Horsham, Plymouth Meeting, and Ambler, and upcoming locations will be found in Bryn Mawr, Malvern, and Washington Square.

Kate McNerney, NTP

Kate is an Associate Clinician at the Well of Life Center for Natural Health. The Well of Life Center is a holistic wellness center that specializes in nutrition, chiropractic, massage services, and more. Celebrating their 10th year in business, the Well of Life Center has locations in Doylestown, Bethlehem, and Ottsville, PA. For more information, please visit welloflifecenter.com.