Eating Out and Takeaways
Eating out and takeaways have become a more popular and regular event in our busy lives. Just because you are trying to lose weight or improve your health doesn’t mean that you cannot participate, but maybe some forward planning with regards to what and where you will be eating can help keep you on track and avoid those negative feelings that inevitably arise when we’ve over indulged!
We may not know how food is prepared and cooked in restaurants and takeaways but we do know that a lot of food choices on offer are likely to be higher in fat and calories and are larger portion sizes than if you were eating at home. Remember you are the paying customer so if unsure about a particular food choice i.e. how it’s cooked or what comes with it then ask. You can request changes so if you want your salmon served without a creamy hollandaise sauce poured over then say so, the same as you can request your salad to come without dressing.
It’s a good idea to not arrive for your meal feeling absolutely ravenous and that you could eat everything in site. So if this is the case, maybe have a piece of fruit beforehand and keep those hunger pangs at bay.
Portion sizes are considerably larger when eating out so consider sharing with a friend or ask for a smaller portion, many menus now have the choice of ‘light bites’ or smaller versions of the meal.
What to choose if having Italian:
- If having a starter choose something light such as olives or tomato salad, or breadsticks. A salad can be a good starter but hold the dressing.
- Garlic bread is often high in saturated fat and calories so maybe try some bruschetta, which is ciabatta topped with chopped fresh tomatoes and herbs.
- If going for pizza, choose thin crust over deep pan and choose toppings either with plenty of vegetables, fish, prawns or ham over one laden with cheese, pepperoni or ‘meat feat’ style.
- If going for pasta, choose a dish with a tomato-based sauce rather than cream based which tend to be laden with fat.
- Choose salad without an oil based or creamy dressing and opt for balsamic vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Remember to ask for any accompanying sauce for meat or fish on the side so you can control how you eat and choose potatoes and vegetables unbuttered.
- Avoid the extra sprinkling of Parmesan on your pizza or pasta!
- If having a dessert choose a sorbet or fresh fruit,
What to choose if having Indian:
- Choose drier dishes such as tandoori or tikka as they are cooked without extra fat.
- Avoid creamy curries such as korma, passanda, masala and dhansak. Better choices are jalfrezi, madras, dupiaza and rogan josh. Try and leave some of the sauce that way you won’t be getting all the fat.
- Try and avoid deep fried extras such as samosas, bhajis and pakora. You can ask for poppadoms to be grilled or microwaved rather than deep-fried.
- Maybe give the meat-based dishes a miss and opt for one made of dhal (lentils) or a vegetable based curry for a change.
- Choose plain boiled rice as opposed to pilau, biryani or fried rice.
- Choose a chapatti over naan bread, paratha or puris.
- If having dessert choose fresh fruit or standard ice cream. Indian ice cream (Kulfi) is usually high in fat.
What to choose if having Chinese:
- Many starters are deep fried or battered i.e. sesame prawn toast, dim sum or spring rolls. So if having a starter choose a satay dish or a soup such as Won Ton.
- For main meals look at the stir fried options as opposed to deep fried, sweet and sour dishes are usually battered and so not a good choice.
- Also choose options that are steamed i.e. fish, vegetables and rice.
- Satay and chow mein dishes whilst not as good choices in terms of calories as steamed or stir-fried they are preferable to deep-fried or battered choices.
- Choose plain boiled rice or noodles and avoid special fried rice varieties.
- If having dessert choose fruit.
What to choose if having Thai:
- Opt for stir fried or steamed dishes with chicken, fish or vegetables.
- Coconut milk can be found in Thai curries, which is high in saturated fat so if choosing one of these dishes try and avoid eating all of the sauce.
- Choose plain steamed rice or noodles.
What to choose at the Fish & Chip Shop:
We are all aware that fish and chips is a high fat meal but you can make choices to make it healthier.
- Choose mushy peas or baked beans as an accompaniment.
- Try not to eat all the batter on the fish, as this is where a lot of the fat is.
- Instead of sausages or meat pies choose chicken and remove the skin.
- Choose a smaller portion i.e. in a tray or share.
What to choose at the Burger Bar:
Many establishments will provide you with nutritional information on their products so this will help you make an informed choice.
- Choose plain grilled chicken or fish burgers without cheese or a small hamburger as opposed to standard beef burgers with cheese, quarter pounders or whoppers.
- Fries are very high in fat, the thinner the cut of chips the higher the fat content.
- Opt for a salad but leave off any dressing or fried croutons.
- Avoid milkshakes and choose water, fruit juice or diet drinks.
- Some burger bars now offer fruit so choose this rather than donuts or other high calorie dessert.
What to choose if having Mexican:
- Good choices are grilled seafood or chicken dishes such as fajitas or bean burritos served with salad (watch out for any dressing though)
- Choose tomato based salsas, sauces or dips and avoid sour cream and limit the guacamole, tortilla chips and refried beans, as these are high in fat and calories.
- Avoid potato wedges or nachos covered in cheese or sour cream.
What to choose at the sandwich bar:
- Choose wholegrain/seeded bread varieties.
- Choose lean meat filling (i.e. beef, chicken, ham, turkey), fish or lower fat cheeses such as edam or mozzarella.
- Include salad.
- Say no to mayo or salad cream; choose mustard, pickle or salsa for example.
- If sandwich filling is moist say no to butter or margarine.
- When buying ready made sandwiches look at the labelling, sandwiches that are low in fat have 3g of fat or less per 100g, ones high in fat have 20g or more per 100g.
- Salt is another factor to consider, as ready-made sandwiches can often be high in salt, 1.5g of salt per 100g is a lot.
What to choose at a buffet:
It can be easy to overindulge at buffet when the table contains tempting snacks such as sausage rolls, quiches and deep fried mushrooms to name but a few. So again make sure you are not ravenous and maybe have a light snack beforehand.
- Choose sandwiches on wholegrain bread with lean meat and fish fillings.
- There is often crudités and dips to take advantage of, just don’t overdo it on the creamy dips.
- Chicken drumsticks without the skin can be a good choice.
- There is usually fresh fruit available such as melon, strawberries and oranges so fill up on these.
Take Home Pointers:
- Choose dishes that are grilled, steamed, boiled, poached and stir fried not deep-fried or battered.
- Choose sauces that are tomato based as opposed to cream or cheese based.
- Choose dry curries such as tikka and tandoori.
- Have vegetables and salads served plain, i.e. unbuttered or without dressing or ask for it to be served on the side so you can add what you want.
- Choose plain steamed / boiled rice or noodles.
- Choose boiled, baked potatoes without butter rather than chips, fries or dauphinois or sauté potatoes.
Importantly enjoy your meal and if you know that you will overindulge on occasion just eat less at other meals to make allowances for this.