Tips for Ordering Take-out Without Sabotaging Your Health
I live in a big, fast-paced city and juggle between many different priorities on the daily. Ordering take-out can be a real time saver, and frankly an energy-saver too. However, eating takeout can really crush your health-game and end up burdening your body if you don’t take a minute to think it through.
Many of my clients express confusion about what to order when getting take-out or eating at restaurants (which I am sure if a whole other post waiting to happen). Most people say “what the heck, I’m just going to order whatever because getting take-out isn’t healthy anyway so who cares?” ME!! I DO, I DO!! You absolutely CAN order take-out without sacrificing flavor or your health or even the fun of it. And I’m not talking about just ordering a salad.
On take-out night in our house we get really excited about it since its kind of a special treat. If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I strive for 80% home-prepared meals and 20% total freedom. That means, I have NO guilt when I want to order take-out, splurge on a nice restaurant or grab something on-the-go. I don’t like strict rules that have me feeling all confined when it comes to food. No way, Jose!
Instead, stick to a few healthy swaps like the ones I’ve outlined below and you won’t miss out.
Here’s a short list of some tips I love for ordering take-out that won’t sabotage your diet, wreck digestive havoc or have you feeling any guilt.
1. Go for grilled, steamed or raw versus fried. I love Mexican food but not that feeling after you’ve overdone it on the fried entrees, loads of cheese and oily chips. Opt for the grilled vegetable or fish tacos on a corn tortilla (versus flour tortilla) for a gluten-free option. When eating at home, swap out sour cream for 0% fat plain Greek yogurt for that same creaminess that cools off a spicy meal. I’ll even ask the restaurant to pack all of the taco ingredients separately so we can “build our own” at home, giving us total control over the ingredients.
2. Keep it lean and clean. When I just don’t feel like cooking, I’ll opt for take-out and I just never get sick of sushi. Swap out white rice for steamed brown rice in your roll and stick to simple rolls like salmon + avocado for a dose of healthy fats. I usually tell them to “hold the soy sauce” and instead use my long-loved Bragg’s liquid Aminos. It’s the perfect soy sauce alternative that’s gluten-free, sugar-free and absolutely delicious. Add a little wasabi and you’ll won’t miss the sodium, msg, wheat and sugar laden soy sauce that they usually serve. I like to get a cucumber avocado roll to add some greenery to the mix as well and I’ve lately seen a new trend of sushi rolls being wrapped in cucumber instead of seaweed.
3. Don’t skimp on the sides. I love Italian food but the breads and pastas don’t always agree with me. So whenever I order Italian I make sure not to skimp on the sides. I’ll order a few sides of garlicky steamed vegetables, usually spinach or broccoli or the greens’du jour’ and make sure to fill at least half of my plate with greens to balance out the heavier indulgences like pizza. When you’re still getting in your greens it’s almost impossible to overdue it!
4. Sharing is caring. If there’s some decadent on the menu that I really want, I’ll try to share it with someone or even two or three people as an appetizer or even a dessert item. Really I just want a taste or two but I know if I order it to myself I’ll overdue it. By getting something decadent as a “share item” that everyone can enjoy you never feel like you’re missing out.
5. Make it the exception not the rule. Take-out can be convenient, fun and even exciting. However, whenever you eat food not prepared in your kitchen you run the risk of eating things you may not want like excess butter, sodium or sugar. So, make take-out the exception not the rule. As I mentioned above, strive for 80% home-prepared meals and 20% take-out or eat-out meals. That way you can still live your life without sacrificing experiences like a girls night out or a birthday lunch with your coworkers. The 80/20 rule also works for the day you plan to eat take-out. Think of it this way, if you know you’re going to order out that night for dinner make your breakfast and lunch an eat-at-home healthy meal to balance out your dinner. This equation can be swapped for any meal of the day.
6. Enjoy the novelty of it, guilt-free! When you make ordering take-out or eating at a restaurant a special “event” you subconsciously ignite those pleasure receptors in your brain. Hence, allowing you to enjoy it more. When you enjoy the experience more, you don’t have to do it all the time to feel the joy of it. So, the next time you order out think of ways to make it special. Maybe you serve the food on one of your favorite platters instead of out of the to-go container or you pour a glass of wine and turn it into your “you” night.
These are just a few of the ways I clean-up my meals when eating out or taking out. I hope you found some of the tips helpful cause I have A LOT more where this came from!