Did you know that Australians eat takeaway or restaurant food an average of four times a week? The downside about eating out is how bad for you it can actually be. You don’t realise it, but restaurants and takeaway franchises add obscene amounts of salt and sugar to meals in order to make them more appetizing. Portion sizes are generally out of control, so you end up eating six times the amount of pasta that you would normally. Oh, and you always have bread, alcohol and dessert, too right?
Let’s face it; there are times when we all turn to fast food. Those times when you’re travelling and the roadside service station is your only food choice, or you’re stranded in an airport lounge, or maybe you’re in a shopping mall with ratty kids needing an urgent energy fix. While fast food is not as good as home cooking will ever be, it is possible to cherry pick the menu and find options that are okay. Just because you're committed to a healthy way of eating, doesn't mean you have to end your social life. You can eat out, enjoy yourself, and still lose and maintain your weight by taking on board these tips:
Choose meals described as steamed, grilled and baked
Avoid anything fried, crumbed and battered
Have one or two courses instead of three at a restaurant
Chose an entree OR a dessert, not both at a restaurant
Share a meal with a friend
Ask for sauces and dressings on the side so you can control the quantity
Alternate alcohol with glasses of water
Skip pre dinner nibbles such as nuts, breads, dips and other appetizers
Go for the plain or original versions of takeaway, as they tend to have less kilojoules. It’s the saturated fat and salt added from sauces, cheese and extra meats such as bacon that can make these a more unhealthy choice
Stay away from meal deals and supersizing when getting takeaway. This can add thousands of kilojoules without you even realising
Choosing the options below from takeaway and restaurants will help you make the right choices for lunch and dinner without compromising on a social life:
McDonald's Hamburger plain and simple grilled beef with pickles is the best pick by far without the added sauces, bacon and fries of other burger meals. If you must add fries, downsize rather than upsize. Swapping a large McDonald’s French fries for a small will save you 830kJ! NEVER drink Coke! Opt for bottled water every time. Do you really want to drink something that can clean bathroom tiles?? You can also choose grilled chicken burgers or healthy choice menu options. For all day breakfast at McDonalds you can now opt for wholemeal muffins for your Egg McMuffin without the sausage and bacon and the McCafe cheese and tomato toasted sandwich on wholemeal bread is also a great pick. By choosing the wholemeal versions, they will give you more fibre less sugar and sodium
Subway salads or low-fat 6-inch subs: Ask for extra salads, lean meats and take the multigrain wholemeal or honey oat bread option. Avoid the creamy dressings and the cookies!
Red Rooster roast chicken with sides of corn, peas, roast pumpkin and potato instead of hot chips or the chicken breast peri peri burger. Avoid chicken bacon burgers and drumsticks or any hot chips pack
Oporto Single Fillet Bondi Burger is one of the lowest fat, kilojoule and sodium options on the menu. Other good choices are the fresco salad. But if you really want a burger, a single fillet burger is the best choice
Corner Shop Steak Sandwich is better than most especially if you load it up with tomato, lettuce, beetroot and pineapple, but go easy on the sauce and forget the fried egg, fried onions, cheese and hot chips. And don't even look at dagwood dogs, battered potato scallops chiko rolls or battered seafood sticks if you ever want to lose weight or not stack it on this winter!
Dominos thin crust pizzas with lots of vegetables are ok. If you like meat, choose chicken or seafood, instead of processed meat toppings, like salami and pepperoni which are ridiculously high in sodium and fat!
Sumo Salad large tandoori lamb salad with light lemon mayo or the Grilled chicken with vegies packed salad are by far the healthiest choices. Just because it's a salad, doesn't always make it healthy. The Thai chicken noodle salad with Oriental dressing from Sumo Salad has almost all your kilojoules for the day if you want to lose weight. Plus your entire day’s worth of sodium!
Salad bar sandwiches are a good option as you can create your own with loads of salads, lean meat like chicken or canned fish and avocado spread, instead of butter, on wholegrain wholemeal or sourdough bread. Just stay away from the roast meat and gravy sandwiches!
Japanese Sushi and Sashimi is low in fat, served in small portions and with a variety of healthy fillings, including omega-3 rich fish. Seaweed is also a good source of fibre and iodine. But don’t drown your meal in soy sauce – just one teaspoon contains 370mg sodium. Choose rolls that contain salmon, fresh tuna, vegies, tofu and avocado. Skip the teriyaki fried chicken, beef and tempura prawn varieties though as they are high in fat and sodium. Udon noodle soups, tataki beef, sukiyaki and teppanyaki grilled meats and vegies are also good choices
Vietnamese rice paper rolls are the best pick and hard to go wrong with this choice. Fresh vermicelli noodles, salads, fresh herbs and prawns are the main ingredients. They’re so good, you won’t need any dips!
Italian pasta is low in fat and has a lower GI than most bread and rice. Napoletana and marinara sauces are both traditionally tomato-based and lower in fat than other meat, cream or cheese based sauces. Just be careful about portion size – consider ordering the entrée as a main, and don’t be afraid to ask for extra vegies! Other good choices are Minestrone soup, chicken marsala served with vegetables or vegetarian pizzas to share. Stay away from alfredo or boscaiola pastas with cream sauce and absence of vegetables and the antipasto – olives, artichokes and eggplant may seem healthy, but not when they are drenched in oil and salt. Salami, prosciutto and smoked ham are also high in saturated fat and sodium
Thai beef salad is a good choice as it usually has fresh salad, lean beef and steamed noodles which is low in fat, high in fibre and full of flavour. Other good choices at Thai are stir-fry with extra vegies. And if you choose tofu in your stir-fry, ask for fresh tofu (instead of deep-fried). Also, try a jungle curry – it’s a better option, as it doesn’t contain coconut milk which is very high in fat. Stay away from Pad Thai and Fish cakes which are fried
Chinese dishes are very high in sodium – but steamed fish is an exception. Add steamed or boiled rice and pak choi (Chinese cabbage) for a nutritionally balanced option. Other good choices are stir-fried vegetables with prawns, chicken or beef. Steamed dumplings are also a good option, as is wonton soup or hot and sour soup but stay away from sweet and sour pork or any pork or duck dishes for that matter and any chow meins as the noodles are deep fried along with fried rice
Indian dishes like tandoori and tikka or bhuna dishes are lower in fat and kilojoules than fried dishes like bhajees and samosas. Another trick when eating at an Indian restaurant is to order tomato-based curries rather than the coconut milk-based ones which have a higher calorie count. Stick with tandoori chicken, aloo palak, chickpea and spinach curry, cucumber raita and plain boiled/steamed rice and forget the marsala which is made from cream and ground almonds. And yes stay away from the naan bread and papaddums which are made from white flour and often brushed with butter. Roti is thinner and usually made from a whole wheat flour blend which is a better choice
Lebanese can be tricky as the serving sizes are large plus the abundance of Lebanese bread and dips but if you stick with fattoush salad, tabouli, chicken skewers, kofta and cabbage rolls, lebanese food can offer a nutritious, filling meal if you can keep away from the bread and baklava! Just remember, the more vegetables and salad you eat, the lower your fat and calorie intake will be
Mexican can be a great option if you ditch the cheese, limit the sour cream and add beans and salsa instead to increase your fibre and protein content and help to fill you up without adding too many calories. Stay away from the Nachos and stick to wholemeal or vege burritos or mexe salads like Mad Mex Veggie burrito or Guzman Y Gomez chicken guerrero bowl with no tortilla or cheese which just has chicken with rice, black beans and spicy salsa or two Guzman Y Gomez barramundi hard shell tacos which is the best pick
In an ideal world, eating out would be reserved for special occasions – but a more realistic view would be to look at limiting takeaway food and eating out at restaurants. Try to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% home-cooked dinners and 20% takeaway dinners. This way, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Lifestylist Health & Wellness