5 Ways to Make Takeout Food Healthier

Takeout is a way to enjoy restaurant-quality food from the comfort of home. Common options include pizza, burgers, and subs as well as rice, noodles and drinks. It’s a convenient option for those with busy schedules or individuals who don’t cook regularly.

Most takeout menus consist of appetizers, main courses, beverages, desserts and an assortment of condiments. Unfortunately, these can be packed with lots of calories, added sugars, and excess fat. Consumers shouldn’t have to choose between taste and their health.

Here are five healthy changes you can make to your next order:

  1. Watch the sauce and dressing: One of the easiest ways to cut extra calories and sodium from a dish is to lose the sauce or ask for it on the side. No matter how healthy a meal appears, its nutritional value can be compromised by the addition of dressings or dips. If you don’t want to eliminate them altogether, try a healthier alternative. Instead of a creamy ranch or Caesar dressing on a salad opt for an olive oil vinaigrette.
  2. Avoid fried foods: Fried foods taste delicious but are often high in cholesterol and fat. Their signature smell and texture come from the cooking preparation, which may include breading, butter, shortening, lard, or bacon fat. Skip the batter and go for a grilled or baked option. This allows you to get rid of extra calories and still enjoy the flavor.
  3. Don’t drink your calories: Depending on size and type of beverage, a drink can have just as many calories as a meal. Something as simple as a 16-ounce serving of chocolate milk could have more than 400 calories and 48 grams of sugar. There are also additives such as food thickeners and stabilizers, which are chemicals used in supposed “healthy beverages” like iced tea. Select a sugar-free beverage or try infusing your own homemade iced tea with fruit, herbs or veggies for a refreshing and hydrating drink.
  4. Pack on the vegetables: It’s no secret that vegetables are nutrient-dense powerhouses. But once again, the key is in how they’re prepared. The addition of fats, oils and sauces can make them a problem. By just roasting, grilling or steaming vegetables, dishes can remain low-fat and low-calorie. When ordering carryout, opt for veggies or a salad instead of fries or onion rings.
  5. Monitor portion sizes: American food portions have increased significantly over the past 35 years. Adults consume an average of 300 more calories per day now than they did in 1985. This gradual shift has had a noticeable effect on our health with obesity and chronic conditions. When looking at a menu, remember multiple servings can appear in a single dish. Instead of eating for one, you could be consuming enough for two or even three people. When ordering takeout, think about splitting a meal with a family member or saving half to enjoy the next day.

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Photo credit: andresr

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