Nan Allison, MS, RD, LDN is a licensed dietitian/nutritionist, co-author of “Full and Fulfilled: the Science of Eating to Your Soul’s Satisfaction,” and owner since 1987 of Allison Nutrition Consulting. She serves as Consulting Dietitian for the Integrative Life Center, Nashville.
Her ongoing interest is in why individuals and cultures choose to eat the way they do and how to facilitate change at the individual, corporate and community levels. She helps clients who want help with a variety of nutrition related issues: chronic dieting, eating disorders, addictions, sports performance, diabetes, pediatrics, and corporate wellness –always from the perspective that eating well and healing (both individual and corporate) is a process rooted in guided self- exploration and discovery.

Nan served as the government relations director for the Tennessee Dietetic Association and remains involved in nutrition and public policy concerns, particularly around food and mental health issues.

She is a founding member of the Nutrition Professionals Alliance which provides educational services to the community and to health professionals.

She has a B.S. in nutrition from the University of Tennessee, a M.S. in nutrition from Tufts University and she completed her dietetic internship at Tufts New England Medical Center. She is Level 1 and Level 2 certified in Adult Weight Management by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She also has 7 years of training in Kabbalistic Healing and in Energy Healing from the School of Integrative Medicine at the Estuary, Nashville.

She was the Tennessee Dietetic Association’s 1990 Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year and in 2002, Dietitian of the Year.

Fast Food Meals Under 500 Calories. Is It Possible?

Most certainly. But, is a healthy meal possible?

We all know that just eating fewer calories isn’t the only criteria for health. So what would be? What healthy is, includes a wide range of criteria.

Using the United States Department of Agriculture (and the National Institutes of Health) general guidelines from .

A healthy meal for the average adult would provide at least:

2-3 oz of lean protein (14-25 grams of protein)
1-2 servings of whole grain and/or fruit
1 cup of vegetable (or fruit)
and less than 20 grams of fat (most people burn about 50 – 75 per day)
Ideally less than 500 mg sodium (you want to get less than 1500 mg per day)

So what does that look like?

At Wendy’s

Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich with a Mandarin Orange Cup and a Medium Iced Tea
Small Chili and Chicken Go wrap Large Chili and Side Salad with Lite Dressing

At Subway

6-inch Double Roast Beef Sub with Veggie Delite Salad with Fat-Free Italian Dressing and Medium Iced Tea (sodium values are around 1000 mg for this meal)

At McDonald’s

Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich with a Side Salad with Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette, and a Medium Iced Tea

At Chick-Fil-A

Chargrilled & Fruit Salad
Chargrilled Chicken Cool Wrap

At Arby’s

Chicken Fillet Sandwich – Roast with Applesauce, and a 20-oz Diet Peach FruiTea

Many more ideas can be put together by going to each of these fast food restaurants’ websites. Click on their nutrition information links and use their interactive meal calculators to personalize your menu.

In general, if you are in a restaurant and one of these options isn’t available:
Think ahead. Consider meal options at different restaurants and look for places with a wide range of menu items.


Balance your meal by including foods from all the different food groups: meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Look for freshly made entrée salads that give you “balance in a bowl.” For example, entrée salads with chicken, cheese or almonds provide protein along with fiber and vitamins. If you are counting calories, use a low-fat dressing or skip some of the extras, like croutons.

For sandwich toppings, go with low-fat options like lettuce, tomato and onion; use condiments like ketchup, mustard or relish; and low-fat for fat-free dressings.

Round out your meal by ordering healthy side dishes, such as a side salad with low-fat or fat-free dressing, baked potato or fruit. Boost the nutritional value of your baked potato by topping it with vegetables, salsa or chili.

Substitute. Ask for a side salad with low-fat dressing to replace fries in a combination meal.

Many restaurants honor requests, so don’t be afraid to be assertive, ask menu questions and make special requests to meet your nutritional needs.

Many restaurants serve huge portions, sometimes enough for two or three people. Order menu items that contain fewer calories and eat a smaller portion. Bring leftovers home for another meal.

Additional Resources:

Healthy Eating on the Run hand out from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Tips for Health Dining Out

Eating on the Run by Evelyn Tribole, Health Kinetics

Eat Out, Eat Right: The Guide to Healthier Restaurant Eating by Hope S. Warshaw