After a long and stressful day, the temptation to give in and order takeout is real. You might even be getting takeout meals or food deliveries more frequently than you used to because of the pandemic.
While it’s true that restaurant meals, particularly fast food, tend to have more sodium, calories and saturated and trans fats than home-cooked dishes, takeout doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. Even foods you’d typically consider “off-limits” can be tweaked to increase their nutritional value.
Consider these ideas to make your next takeout order a little healthier:
One of the easiest ways to give any meal a healthy makeover is to add more vegetables. Vegetables are high in fiber, nutrients, and volume while also being low in calories. Be sure to ask for extra vegetables with your entrée, or add extra veggies to your plate once you get home. Choose a side salad or any vegetable as a side instead of a more calorically dense/ carb-heavy option such as fries.
Choose Healthy Preparation Methods:
When looking at the menu of your favorite restaurant, pay attention to the way that your foods are cooked and prepared. Look for words including "grilled," "broiled" or "steamed," meaning the food is cooked with less fat and are lower in calories, and avoid/limit dishes with descriptions such as "fried," "breaded,", “crispy”, "smothered," "alfredo," "rich" and "creamy", which typically indicate that food is high in calories and fat.
Don’t be Afraid to ASK:
Your server knows the menu best, so don’t hesitate to ask questions! For example, you could ask for a salad in place of the usual fries or chips with a meal. You could ask to take away the bread basket, put half of your meal in a to-go box before it arrives, or to put condiments/dressings on the side.
Scan the Nutritional Information:
More and more restaurants are opting to display the nutritional information on the menu itself and online in the form of a PDF. Before you order out, compare the menu items to find the options that are the lowest in saturated fat, trans fat, added sugar, cholesterol, sodium and calories.
Moderation is key:
When it comes to ordering out from anywhere, moderation is so important. Remember: one salad won’t make you skinny just like one Big Mac won’t make you fat. It’s all about what you do most of the time! So don’t stress about over ordering takeout once in a while when it will make your life easier.
Overall, ordering healthy takeout doesn’t have to be a challenge. You just need to be well-informed and to be mindful about making better choices. An effortless way to do so is to implement a few of the tips above next time you decide to order out!