Let’s face it, getting a takeaway is all too often irresistible, and when it’s not a hamburger or French fry craving calling you to the drive through…it’s often the most convenient option right?! So the best advice I can give you is to learn how best to approach these inevitable meal moments.
Ok, so I have to say there are very few take-away joints that I personally frequent, more because I believe in knowing what you put in your body, but then again I’m the first one to admit that I love love love meeting up with friend over lunch for a catch up somewhere…not always healthy. Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means ‘okaying’ that you get more than a few meals a month at these places. But I understand the appeal, i.e. when you are walking around a foreign city, spending a whole day out with the family or just at the beach with your friends for hours and hours, you have little choice, especially when the lunch time tummy bell rings.
It’s just important to know why it’s not good to visit them too often.
1- Not because I have anything against them, but rather because it means that you don’t always know what you are eating.
2- They may use ingredients you are not used too or may even have a bad reaction to.
3- Honestly some of the “healthiest” spots have great ingredients, they simply give it to you in a portion size that would last a whole day.
So it’s about being mindful in how you approach your takeaway.
I’ve decided to spend a bit of time talking about ‘taking on the takeaway’ with some great go-to tactics.
Firstly it’s worth researching the best of the worst, the best of the best and the healthy hacks that you can use when the time comes to make the smartest healthiest meal choice for you and your family.
Tip 1. Share the love- Buy a few items and share it amoung a group of people.
I remember my dad telling me a story of when he and his buddies were in the army. They would put all of their ration packs together in a pot and share the lot, somehow there were always leftovers and if not, at least all the guys were satisfied. However, when they cooked their packs individually, they would each devour their portion and still complain that it wasn’t enough.
Have you ever gone to a restaurant, ordered a pizza and somehow when you order your own plate you feel a duty to finish everything in front of you. Somehow you are able to devour the entire pizza on your own. And yet, when you are sitting around 2 or 3 pizza’s with your friends, at a girls night in, you’ll grab 2, 3 or even 4 slices and be happily satisfied. Enough said.
Tip 2. Save some for later- You have probably heard this a few times before, but I’ll say it again. If you go out for lunch ask the waiter to serve you half a portion and put the rest in a doggy bag. Trust me a wrap or pasta bowl (yes even if they are Thai noodles) that you order at a takeout, is usually double the size as one that you would serve at home. Plus you have the bonus of having a yummy meal at a later stage. #2for1
Tip 3. DON’T save the best for last- I don’t know what it is, but there are some of us that are just wired into eating everything on the plate and saving the best part of the meal for the end. Don’t do it! You are just forcing yourself to eat beyond your actual level of ‘fullness’. Instead make the call, what on your plate are you dying to indulge in, the burger or the chips… if the answer is the burger then go for it, order the burger and be brave and order… “what, no sides?”… yes! If anything order a side salad. I promise you 1 whole burger is enough for a meal. And if your answer was the chips, then save some money and just order a side of chips, since that’s what you are after in the first place.
Again, I have to stress that chips are not what I recommend as part of a healthy meal plan, but life happens and indulging is better than over indulging. Then, for the next meal you get straight back to the healthy lifestyle you have been living.
Tip 4. Chicken or Beef- This is a tricky question, I generally say go for the chicken option, simply because a grilled chicken breast is pretty difficult to replicate artificially. Plus, it doesn’t tend to absorb as much of the sugar and oil basting as it beef mince counterpart. However, if you have to choose between a beef or a crumbed chicken patty, I’d go for the beef. I personally don’t like the idea of wrapping my chicken patty in flour and then again with bread.
In fact whenever you have the option, go for grilled. Whether it is fish, calamari or chicken, grilled is going to be the healthier approach.
Tip 5. The Bunless Beauty- I went out with some friends of mine in Durban a few weeks ago, and we ordered bunless beef burgers with zucchini fries. It was delicious! I was so preoccupied enjoying the avo and feta combo on my burger that I didn’t even miss the bun. This is generally the way go… 1 bunless chicken breast burger with avo and feta with a sparkling water and lemon. Yes please!
Over all when it comes to nutrition in a takeaway scenario, go for what you recognise. Choose brands that offer real food, real smoothies. Then it’s up to you to commit to a wholesome wrap, grilled chicken strips, a fruit smoothie with plain yoghurt etc. or something that offers some good solid nutrients.