In our busy lives, takeout food has become a common part of our everyday diets. There is no denying that this type of food is filling, quick, cheap and can make life a whole lot easier, however, it can also be harmful to our health, especially if it becomes a daily occurrence.
Takeout food is cheap for a reason, and this is mainly because of the quality of the food that is used. Cheap fats, known to be harmful to heart health, sugar and numerous preservatives and flavors are all common in the foods that are becoming more and more prevalent in our everyday diets.
Although fast food and takeout are generally less healthy that home cooked food, there are options that are better in terms of health in your favorite takeout. If eating this type of food has become a way of life for you, here are some better choices that can cut the amount of calories and fat you are consuming and that are better for your overall health. (see also: How to stop junk food addiction)
Healthier Burger Options
The quickest way to cut down on calories when choosing a burger is to opt for a smaller size and never choose to supersize your meal. Although it may seem small when compared with the adult version, children sized burgers often contain sufficient calories for an adult.
Another way to cut down on fat and calories is to limit the extras that you add. Avoid extra egg, cheese, bacon and high fat dressings such as mayonnaise where possible and steer well clear of burgers that feature two meat patties.
If it is available, a vegetarian burger is also often a good way to go as a healthier option.
At burger joints always choose the grilled options rather than the fried versions where possible, for example a grilled fish burger or grilled chicken strips instead of battered and fried fish or chicken nuggets.
It is also important to watch your sides as additions such as fries, milkshakes and sodas add a heap of calories to an already high calorie meal. If you are going for a burger option, try accompanying it with water and a side salad and try some of the healthier options on the menu such as yogurt parfaits rather than thick shakes.
Healthier Chicken Options
Fried chicken takeout options can be packed with fat and calories, but you can make some simple changes to reduce this quite drastically. Start by avoiding anything that is advertised as ‘extra crispy’ or fried as these have the most fat, and avoid any extra gravies and sauces that might add calories.
Choose skinless chicken breast where possible or remove the skin yourself to save on calories. One meal to be especially careful of is Caesar salad. Although it may seem like a healthy option, the additions of bacon, creamy dressing and croutons can mean it has more fat and calories than a large burger. Opt instead for grilled or BBQ chicken salads and sandwiches.
Healthier Asian Options
Asian food has plenty of options for the health conscientious, but it can sometimes be hard to find them in the sea of fried high calorie foods on offer. Once again, anything deep fried or advertise as ‘crispy’ should generally be avoided, even if the food itself seems like a healthy option.
Sweet and sour options pack a calorie punch due to the high sugar options, and coconut based dishes tend to be high in unhealthy fats. Surprisingly, some Asian soups such as hot and sour or egg drop can also be very high in calories in addition to their very high salt content.
Instead of these foods, opt for stir-fries, steamed foods or those that are roasted or baked. Ideally choose steamed rice or noodles rather than fried and try to eat as many vegetables dishes as possible rather than meat.
Steamed or grilled fish dishes are also a good option, just be wary of high calorie sauces.
Healthier Italian Options
Pizza and pasta are popular takeout choices, but there is no doubt that they are often unhealthy choices. Cheese, high fat deli meats, cream and large quantities of bread all play a key part in Italian cuisine and can also be detrimental to health if consumed in excess.
When it comes to pizza, avoid thick or stuffed crust options and choose those with vegetables toppings rather than meat or extra cheese. Avoid sides such as garlic bread, instead going for plain bread, bread sticks or a simple side salad.
Pasta can be a healthy option, just choose those that have tomato or vegetables based sauces rather than the popular cheesy or creamy versions and order a starter size rather than an entrée.
Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try some on the less well-known Italian dishes too; vegetables antipasto and grilled vegetarian or fish dishes are often much healthier options.
Healthier Sandwich Options
Similar to burgers, a healthier sandwich options can be as simple as choosing a smaller size. When it comes to fillings, many sandwich bars allow you to choose your own, meaning there is really no excuse not to find a healthy option.
Avoid high fat meat fillings such as bacon, salami or meatballs and choose leaner options such as lean ham, roast beef or grilled chicken. Steer clear of high fat cheese and mayonnaise and choose lower fat versions or low calorie flavorings such as mustard for taster. Where possible choose a whole grain bread option and pack as many vegetables as possible into your sandwich.
Healthier Mexican Options
Traditional Mexican food that often features vegetables and beans can be quite a healthy option; however the more common Tex-mex style of food with its large quantities of cheese, and sour cream tends to pack a hefty amount of fat and calories.
Try to avoid dishes that have been fried such as crispy tacos and nachos, and refried beans, choosing instead soft tacos, black beans and grilled meat. Shrimp dishes make good options vegetable and bean burritos and avoid adding extra cheese or sour cream where possible.