Healthy Tips for Ordering Takeout

Whether you’ve had a long day at work or just don’t feel like cooking this weekend, takeout is an easy go-to option for dinner. Problem is, those delivery foods we tend to choose are generally packed with fatty, greasy goodness. Delicious as it may be, there’s a better way to get your takeout fix without doing too much damage to your healthy eating goals!

Try these easy tips to make healthier choices with all your speed dial delivery favs:

Chinese Food: Skip the spare ribs, egg rolls and sesame noodles and opt for soups or steamed dumplings to start. For entrées I always go to the “healthy section” and order steamed veggies with shrimp or chicken, and ask for the sauce on the side.  That way you can control how much sauce you add (plus they’re not using extra oil just to cook your food.). Avoid dishes with deep-fried components like General Tso’s or Sesame Chicken and opt for brown rice over white.

Pizza: Go for the thin crust over deep-dish or stuffed crust and avoid anything that has “meat lovers” or “quadruple cheese” in the description.  Instead, choose as many delicious veggies as you can for your toppings. It’s also a great idea to add a salad to your order so you can fill up with greens after your first slice (and take the time to see if you’re really hungry enough for a second or third slice!)

Thai Food: As a general rule, appetizers are the healthier options for Thai. Try green papaya salad, summer rolls (vs. fried spring rolls) and chicken satay skewers to start. For your entrée, you could share a more indulgent Pad Thai or fried curry dish.

Sushi:  Edamame and miso soup are great for boosting your protein, and they’re a lot better for you than fried gyoza. Get your veggies in with a seaweed or broccoli salad. When it comes to ordering rolls, buzz words to stay away from are tempura or crunchy (means fried) and spicy or crazy (equals mayo!). Instead opt for simple fish combos, heart-healthy avocado rolls, and if you want crunch, add it with cucumber. My go-to roll to order is a “naruto” roll with salmon and avocado wrapped in cucumber. It’s crunchy, delicious, & filling while keeping things light.  Many places also let you swap in brown rice for white rice to get a little fiber boost in your roll.

Indian Food: For your starters, skip the filled naan and fried samosas, and go for the lentil soup or chick pea chopped salads instead. Avoid cream-based curry when it comes to your entrée, and try a lean tandoori grilled chicken with veggies, chicken tikka or a tomato and vegetable-based stew.

Mexican Food: Fajitas are the way to go when it comes to Mexican. They’ve got lean grilled meats, lots of veggies, and you get to control your own portions. For garnishes, stick to guacamole and salsa and go easy on the sour cream and cheese. But, if you’re in the mood for a big yummy burrito go for it! Just ask the restaurant to go light on the rice and cheese and add more beans and veggies to your filling.  If there’s a “bowl” option, you can also choose that and ask that they add in some greens and chopped veggies in place of too much rice.

Italian Food: A filling vegetable minestrone or lentil soup and hearty green salad (instead of Caesar) are a great way to start your meal. For entrées, go for non-fried, lean protein dishes like chicken marsala, shrimp in white wine sauce or a non-cream based fish dish.  If pasta or lasagna is what you’re craving split the serving into two or three (you can even pop some in the freezer) and be sure to focus on filling up on salad or grilled veggies along side.

Burgers and Wings: This is a toughie, but you can still get your fix while making smarter choices!  One option, if your spot offers it, is to go for the grilled chicken salad (I hear you though..that can be boring!)  If it’s the real deal that you’re craving one of my favorite tricks is to opt for a kiddie meal to slash calories and fat but still get your full fix. Another option lots of places offer is to order the regular burger or sandwich you’re craving but ditch part or all of the bun for a lettuce wrap.  When it comes to wings, ask for extra carrots and celery to boost your veggies and fill up on the good stuff before really digging in.  Be sure to go easy on the blue cheese or make your own light blue cheese dip at home!

So, the next time your answer to, “What’s for dinner?” is “Um, a phone call!” use these tips to make smarter choices and feel better about indulging in your takeout faves in a happy-healthy balanced way!

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