Can fast food be part of a healthy family diet plan?

The family diet is an exciting prospect for some moms and dads, a not-so-inviting concept for others. As parents, we do everything we can to ensure that our little ones are getting at an early age the best nutrition, plenty of exercise, and all the stimulation that their minds can possibly absorb. But sometimes fitting in that perfect family meal can be difficult, and we struggle to find the time, energy, and resources to cook up healthy fare each night. So, as a busy parent, what do you do? You head down to the local burger joint or order in some pizza. It’s a guaranteed winner for young taste buds, it’s cheap, and it fills up the kids.

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Too much of a good thing


But everything comes with a price. Fast food has been the hot topic of a generation since Super Size Me hit theaters in 2004, revealing the extent of damage inflicted by a strictly fast-food diet. Comprising the entirety of food consumed by the protagonist, the results – which were starting to point towards organ failure among other symptoms – were enough to make people question if even a moderate amount of fast food in their diet is harmful.


But perhaps a permanent hiatus from fast food isn’t necessary. Completely eliminating it from your diet will only make kids want it more, and let’s face it – a trip to the ballgame or the cinema isn’t complete without a fun family gathering at the diner or a fast food concession. Families can formulate a healthy diet plan, which allows treats like candy, chocolate, and fast food to be a part of a normal lifestyle without falling off the wagon. It’s all a part of figuring out the right balance between schedules, what you like to do (are you an avid cook who likes to try new things, or prefer short and simple meals?), what each family member enjoys and finding a way to bring it all together and getting everyone to chip in and participate.


Even fast food gurus keep it in moderation


While copious amounts of fast food are unhealthy, they aren’t the only part of America’s obesity problem. Fast food entrepreneur Rick Schaden – responsible for innovative urban spoons like Live Basil Pizza and Smashburger, with an onus on taste and quality – has emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as diet. Schaden’s passion for cycling, including his participation in the multi-stage USA Pro Challenge cycling event in the Rockies, is testament that people can love fast food and keep up with the best of ‘em on the track.


So whether you’re wondering whether or not you deserve that slice of delectable five-cheese pizza or all-American burger, just use common sense. Balance your family diet with a variety of healthy foods and recipes that incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, fish, and meat, and your fast food treat won’t just be another “forbidden food” that you crave as a reward, but another diverse part of your eclectic diet. Make food fun. Try out different recipes. And remember that all food, even the healthiest, can be made delicious.




I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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  1. This is such a great post. As long as you eat healthy the majority of the time, you should be good.

  2. We try to limit the fast food as much as we can. Unfortunately with schedules crazy in our lives we have to go a little unhealthy sometimes.

  3. I love to cook, so I make a good majority of our meals. But sometimes it’s nice to have a little treat and get some fast food or takeout. I really think all things in moderation – no food should be labeled “bad”.

  4. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    We don’t eat a ton of fast food, but we do sometimes. There are just times when it’s easier.

  5. I had fast food last night and I was happy as can be. No dirty dishes and no wait. I was busy all weekend and today I’ll be eating healthier options at home. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing something out every now and then.

  6. I think this is such a great, great post! It’s all about moderation. You shouldn’t eat fast food every day of your life, but you also shouldn’t feel like pond scum when you do!

  7. Everything is in moderation in my family. While my son could eat a cheeseburger & fries every night, even he knows it’s not a healthy option to have everyday

  8. Ann Bacciaglia says:

    I always eat in moderation. I find if i deny myself something i will end up eating it anyway and more then i should have.

  9. This is really interesting. Fast food can be convenient when traveling so it’s good to know it’s OK in small amounts.

  10. Since my daughter got diagnosed with celiac, we had to pretty much cut out fast food. I always grab some on road trips, but I try to make healthier choices.

  11. I think as with all things moderation is key. We don’t eat fast food often, but when we do I even try to get the healthier option on the menu. I like eating healthy, so for me i could cut out fast food and be just fine but I think in moderation it’s fine.

  12. I totally agree with you! We’re not huge fast food people but sometimes a greasy burger is just what I want. I think people don’t how to use common sense. Keep it in moderation and you can still be healthy. I JUST had a Five Guys Burger and Fries (Only fast food burger I’ll eat- lol)

  13. I do think the key is in moderation. We try not to eat a ton of fast food, but we do definitely eat it from time to time. I also think that not all fast food is created equally!

  14. I agree – fast food should be eaten in moderation. Today I took the kids to a fast food joint, but I had a salad since I had hot wings this weekend.

  15. I think that unless it is organically grown, free of pesticides then it is not good for human consumption. That is basically growing your own food, which is hard to do for most people (including me, but I try). But I don’t think the “eat whatever you want in moderation” is a good idea either. I think the food that we are consuming accounts for the diseases we experience these days – cancer, depression etc. Notice that these diseases were not as prevalent 40-50 years ago?

  16. WIth weeknights become even more hectic, fast food is a part of our reality. I try to make sure it’s not frequent, but I also don’t think one fast food meal a few times a month will be devastating.

  17. I think the trick is figuring out what the moderation amount for fast food is. Some take it a little too liberally. We all accept that it’s not health food, but where’s the tipping point?

  18. I do believe everything in moderation. As long as you balance it out with a lot of good for you foods, fast food here and there isn’t going to hurt you. And nowadays, most FF restaurants even have healthier options on their menus.

  19. I think most of us have the best intentions of keeping everything in moderation including fast food. Thanks for the reminder. Love the post!

  20. When we eat fast food its just because we want it, not because of every X,Y,Z excuse. I don’t really like it and it grosses me out, but my husband wants it from time to time. I take time to plan ahead and make sure things are ready to go – snack packed, lunches packed, dinner planned out. Then, there really isn’t any need for fast food. I can make some pretty quick meals and a crock pot can cook for you while you are at work.

  21. I definitely think moderation is key when it comes to fast food. I try to cook at home the majority of the week.

  22. I agree, balance is the key to most everything, especially a diet. I can’t say we’re not having something in our diets because then everyone wants that one thing, whether they did or not before the ‘ban.’

  23. My kids ae always asking about eating fast food. I try to explain that it’s not the best option but we can visit every once and awhile.

  24. Fast food is definitely a struggle for us. It’s a bad habit we’re trying to break.

  25. Great points! Everything in moderation. I also think that a good dose of exercise thrown in never hurt anyone. Anytime you swing from one extreme to the other, you’re going to have issues at some point.

  26. Very good points. We have fast food, but definitely not all the time.