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College students face new challenges every day. One challenge that plagues us every hour is where to eat. It is the lingering question in the minds of students after every class.

With so many options, and a stomach with incessant growls, it can be difficult to determine what to eat. When the health factor is thrown in, the decision becomes even harder. Fast food restaurants like Subway advertise having more nutritious choices, but are these options actually better?

Subway’s website displays nutritional values for its sandwiches, even listing the sandwiches that contain six grams of fat or less. The amount of carbohydrates in a sandwich ranges from 29 to 60 grams; while the sodium count averages 561 mg. The calories in Subway sandwiches span from as low as 280 to 570 depending on what you order.

So how does this stack up to other fast food competitors? The average meal at Chick-Fil-A has about 750 calories. There are 78 grams of carbohydratess in a chicken sandwich meal with small fries, and the sodium count is slightly more than double Subway’s, totaling around 1530 mg.

Statistics for McDonald’s are pretty much what you’d expect. A regular cheeseburger has around 290 calories with 33 grams of carbohydrates and sodium levels at 680 mg. Keep in mind this is just the cheeseburger alone. When you add fries, it comes out to 520 calories with 63 grams of carbohydrates.

When time is fleeting but health is still a concern, what is one to do? Chipotle has become tremendously popular over the past year. However, not only are Chipotle’s menu options more expensive than the common fast food restaurant, but the nutrition facts on their website show that the food really isn’t any healthier either.

One flour tortilla for a Chipotle burrito has 300 calories, 46 grams of carbohydrates and 690 mg of sodium. This may scare you, considering this is prior to adding the actual contents of your burrito, however, Chipotle claims to use unprocessed food items, which sounds better than poisoning your body with the artificial substances that other fast food restaurants use. Chipotle’s menu also features a “bowl” option, in which the contents of a burrito are mixed in a container and the tortilla is left out.

Healthier options are available at Panera Bread, where chicken salads with as low as 150 calories and very few carbohydrates are offered. The sandwiches from Panera have nutrition facts similar to Subway’s, showing that when it comes to keeping it healthy, it doesn’t matter where you go to eat as much as what you eat.

An option that might be surprising to health-conscious customers is Taco Cabana. Its website shows that eating healthy at the restaurant is pretty easy. One fajita taco has only 180 calories, with just 21 grams of carbohydrates and very low fat content. Taco Cabana is also known to be relatively cheap, so that’s great news for those that are on a college budget.

Whether it’s to shape up for the summer or just start eating healthier, there are ways to do so on-and-off campus. Most of these places have websites that feature the exact amounts of fat content, protein, cholesterol and sugars that are contained in the menu items.

Remember that even just skipping a soda and opting for juice or water can make an impact on your health. Everyone gets busy, and going through the drive-thru every once in a while can be unavoidable. However, making better decisions at fast food restaurants can help you to feel happier and healthier.

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