Not in the mood to cook and planning to eat out or order something? Regardless of whether you want to simply avoid cooking or want to change up your boring eating habits, ordering food online may help you. You are not the only one leaning into takeout lately. According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 65 percent of people are ordering in on a regular basis. Of course, there is a huge range of options available with takeout, but still they have a reputation as being seriously unhealthy. What if we told you that it is possible to eat healthy while ordering the food from outside? Yes, it is possible!
However, takeout can be healthy if you want it to be and if you order your food mindfully, keeping the nutrition status in mind.
Dr Kiran Dalal, Senior dietician, Fortis Escorts, Faridabad, spoke to Health Shots to about the ways to make healthier choices when eating out or how to choose healthy food options for takeout or delivery.
Dr Dalal says, “Following these tips will help you stick to your health goals without having to give up your social life.”
7 tips to make your takeout order healthier:
1. Keep it small
People are bad at estimating their portion size and therefore it can be challenging for them to eat the right amount. So, whether you’re ordering food online or dining out, make sure you start with a salad before you go to the main course.
According to the University Of Pennsylvania, people who eat a salad before their main course eat fewer calories than those who didn’t because salad is loaded up with healthy fibre. And fiber is known to keep you full and reduce appetite. In fact, if you end up ordering a large portion, try saving half of your food for another meal or share it with someone else.
2. Read the menu carefully
If you’re not familiar with the menu, read it before you get to the restaurant. Dr Dalal says, “When you’re hungry or distracted, you’re more prone to make poor decisions. Because sticking to a diet plan might be challenging when you see and smell food, especially if you are hungry.” Choosing your cuisine before you arrive helps you avoid making rash judgments that you may come to regret later.
If you order food frequently or eat outside, you should check the menu for nutritional information (if available) on the restaurant’s website.
3. Have a healthy snack
If you’re hungry, you might overeat or eat a large piece. One approach to avoid this is to consume healthy snacks before your dinner, such as fruit, almonds, or soup. This will keep you from overeating. “A low-calorie, high-protein snack like yoghurt may help you feel fuller and avoid overeating,” adds Dr Dalal.
4. Check how food is cooked and prepared
The amount of calories in a food depends on how it’s prepared. Steamed, grilled, roasted, or poached food is a good choice. These cooking methods, on average, result in less fat and thus fewer calories. While pan-fried, fried, crispy, crunchy, or sautéed foods are typically higher in fat and calories.
5. Prioritize veggies and protein
If you’re ordering meals, make sure it’s high in protein and includes plenty of vegetables. Legumes, whole grains, and chickpeas are all good sources of protein. Replace harmful starchy alternatives with broccoli, lettuce, tomato, and carrot for veggies. Also, avoid unhealthy foods like fries, cheese, and sauces.
6. Skip sweet beverages
Everyone wants something sweet and nice to drink with their meal, but this is not a healthy option. “If you’re ordering healthy food for takeout or delivery, drinking water before and with the meal, especially if you drink it instead of sugar-sweetened drinks, is a great decision,” says Dr Dalal. Substituting nutritious appetizers or water for sugar-sweetened drinks like colas, ice tea, lemonade, and soda can help reduce your intake of calories and sugar.
7. Pass the dessert
If you are still hungry at the end of your meal, opt for green tea, fruits, or yoghurt instead of a dessert. But if you can’t miss a desert then order one and ask for spoons to split with your friends or family.
Also, keep these tips in mind:
- Eat slowly and chew well for an early satiety
- Keep sodium in check
- Get sauce on the side
- Focus on mindful eating
- Ask to make healthy swap (Instead fries order salad)
- Ask server to help to know the menu
- Avoid calories based drinks
Enjoy your food by using these tips to make healthy choices the next time you eat out!