Things you can order at McDonald's without hating yourself

Sometimes the most health-conscious of us can still occasionally find ourselves at the mercy of McDonald's. This is a truth in modern life. Even with the most precise planning, I have ended up with few food options while on the road or smack dab in the middle of a long work day. When that happens, I can usually find those famous golden arches not far in the distance.

While McDonald's is notorious for being unhealthy, have hope. If you're selective once you're there, you can find a handful of menu items that suit your needs without too much damage to your diet. You might discover that some of these more nourishing choices are terrific go-tos when you lack dining options. Take a look.

Egg McMuffin

If you're seeking a quick and reasonable breakfast at McDonald's, opt for an Egg McMuffin. Made with an English muffin, egg, Canadian bacon, and American cheese, this a.m. sandwich comes in at 290 calories and 17 grams of protein, which all in all, isn't that bad. Pair it with a regular coffee for a meal that doesn't tip your caloric scale for the day and manages to get you started with plenty of energy-giving protein and a dose of caffeine to boot.

Happy Meal with hamburger, small fries, clementine, and water

Add some protein-forward beef to your on-the-run routine when you order a reasonable regular-size meal at McDonald's. In the age of super sizing, this might mean taking a look at the kids' menu. Order a Happy Meal with a plain hamburger, a small serving of fries, a clementine, and water instead of juice or milk for a meal that has 400 calories total.

Southwest grilled chicken salad

For lunch that fills you up but doesn't feel overly heavy, try the Southwest grilled (not crispy) chicken salad. With 37 grams of protein and 15 percent of your daily value for iron, this dish will maintain your energy levels and keep you feeling sated for a longer period of time than other options with less health value. The beans and corn in this salad lend it a good amount of fiber to keep you regular, too. Keep the calories low by opting for one of McDonald's low-fat dressings and go easy on dressing your greens.

Fruit and maple oatmeal

If you're stopping by McDonald's for a healthy snack because you're feeling a little bit low on energy, order the fruit and maple oatmeal. If you skip the additional brown sugar, dairy, and dried fruit, you can eliminate a lot of the fat and sugar content in this snack item, making it more suitable as a pick-me-up. Fibrous oats require some work to digest, which makes you feel full enough until you're able to sit down for your next meal.

Ranch snack wrap (grilled)

With only 300 calories and a good 21 grams of protein, the ranch snack wrap with grilled chicken is a light and nourishing choice from the McDonald's menu. Distinctly less greasy than many other items on the fast food chain's menu, this wrap fills you up and gives you a great dose of energy in between meals. Feeling sated enough to not indulge in unhealthy snacking habits is half the battle.

Filet-O-Fish

It may surprise you to learn that McDonald's Filet-O-Fish is a decent choice when you're in need of a reasonably healthy meal on the run. With 390 calories, 17 grams of protein, and only 5 grams of sugar, this famous sandwich packs quite a punch insofar as giving you loads of energy while still remaining pretty light. Compared to many other sandwiches on the menu, this one makes the cut in my book.

Fruit n' yogurt parfait

Want something sweet from McDonald's? Skip the soft serve, shakes, and apple pie. Instead opt for their fruit and yogurt parfait, which is both low in calories and fat. Made with creamy yogurt, fruit, and granola, this tasty snack promises to satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking the scale. Enjoy!

Go forth and order with great discretion.

Side salad

When paired with a low-fat dressing, McDonald's side salad is a terrific healthy loophole for dining at the fast food chain without severe regrets. The list of all-veggie ingredients are all natural. Yes, it's true! The salad is a medley of lettuces, including more nutrient-rich ones like baby kale and red leaf lettuce as well as carrots and spinach. The dish has 15 calories. You can also skip dressing altogether and avoid unnecessary fat, calories, and sodium. Pair the side salad with one of the other healthy-ish food options and you have yourself a complete meal.

Hamburger

For a complete meal, enjoy the side salad with a plain hamburger, which only adds 250 calories. Cheap and not that bad for you, the original hamburger contains a only a small fraction of the calories, fat, and sodium found in other McDonald's favorites in the burger category. A Quarter Pounder with cheese is more than double the number of calories and it's not even the chain's biggest burger. When compared with all that excess, the original hamburger is truly reasonable and classic to boot.

Apple slices

While it may seem obvious to order fruit as a healthy choice at McDonald's, many people don't immediately go for the apple slices at the famous fast food eatery. An order of said apple slices contains only 15 calories, which makes it a great alternative to greasy fries, fatty shakes, and other less-than-healthy options. So the next time you find yourself staring at those ubiquitous golden arches, go for the apple. I mean, after all the saying goes, an apple a day….