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Avoid Fast Food When You Have IBS

As an IBS sufferer, you have to see through the hype and consider what constitutes a safe meal for you. The point of fast food restaurants is to feed you quick, tasty food. Although fast food places may be modifying their menus to attract people looking for healthier meals, they’re doing so within their prefabricated, prepared, and quickly cooked format.

Any investment they may be making to provide healthier options is likely more of a marketing ploy than a health plan.

As painful a step as it may be, steer clear of anything with a fast food feel, drive-through access, or mascots. If your family insists on a trip to a burger-iffic chain, do your homework first. Compare your food list to the lists of ingredients on the websites of the restaurants in question. Most restaurant chain websites have a tab or link labeled something like “Nutrition” for this information.

You can quickly search a particular web page for specific words without having to slog through everything. In your browser toolbar, just click Edit and then choose the Find on this Page option to search that page for ingredients that bug you.

At first glance, you can easily find the basic ingredients: a burger patty, a bun, and a couple of condiments. But dig a little deeper. What’s in the burger? What’s in the bun? How many ingredients are in the condiments, sauces, and side dishes?

A basic burger at Joint A says it’s 100 percent beef with salt and pepper seasoning. But not all burgers — even different offerings from the same restaurant — are created equal. A different burger at the same restaurant has a list of 25 ingredients including milk, wheat, soy, MSG (under one of its many pseudonyms), and several types of sugar.

Certain sauces that go on some burgers have about 30 different ingredients, including wheat, different forms of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and a few unpronounceable items that sound more like chemicals than food (probably because they are).

This advice comes straight from a fast food worker: If you want to be sure the restaurant makes your burger plain, tell them you have an allergy. Many burgers are already prepared, packaged, and ready to drop in your drive through bag; a plain order often means workers just scrape the toppings off one of these premade patties.

What about the healthier options like grilled chicken breasts? Shockingly, a grilled chicken breast at one fast food restaurant involved nearly 50 ingredients. And that didn’t include the bun! Many preservatives, sugars, yeasts, and flavorings all go into that grilled chicken breast (which may actually be made from chicken rib meat).

Read what’s in the parentheses and brackets beside certain ingredients on the ingredient list. These are the sub-ingredients (and sometimes sub-sub-ingredients) of the main ingredients. Don’t assume you know what seasoning is — next to one seasoning 19 different ingredients were found.

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