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Tips for a healthier takeaway

Even the most health-conscious among us will have occasions when a takeaway seems like an irresistible option. Whether you don’t have the time to cook or simply feel like treating yourself, ordering out once in a while doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

There are, however, a host of problematic foods lurking on those menus. The saturated fat and copious amounts of sugar and sodium that can be typical in a takeaway are behind a range of health issues in the long-term, including high cholesterol and blood pressure.

How should I be ordering?

Your goal when picking a meal should be to watch out for fats. Creamy sauces and fattier meat dishes can be swapped for tomato-based sauces and vegetable, fish or chicken dishes. There is also likely to be a salad-option that’s packed with good stuff! Getting into more detail depends on what cuisine you fancy…

Eating Chinese

Steamed or boiled rice is preferable to egg-fried. Chicken with bean sauce is protein-rich, while vegetable dishes or bean tofu will be packed with nutrients. If you can order your meal without MSG (monosodium glutamate), do so, as the artificial flavour contains a lot of sodium. You can also skip the prawn cracker starter! Szechuan prawns and steamed dumplings are healthier main options.

Eating Indian

Once again, deep-fried dishes will be high in fat, calories and salt. Go for grilled or baked. Give very rich cream or nut sauces a miss, opting instead for yoghurt or tomato sauces. Tandoori chicken is a great option with natural spices. Indian cuisine often offers ginger, garlic, chilli and coriander, all of which will do your body good. Vegetarian options are plentiful, with the chickpeas in Chana Aloo being high in fibre and protein. 

Eating Italian 

Don’t overdo those creamy sauces and mozzarella or parmesan cheeses. Seafood and chicken with tomato-based sauces like marinara or arrabiata are better alternatives. Swap pepperoni and dried meat for veggie toppings like spinach, garlic and peppers. Trade deep-pan pizzas for thin base and garlic bread for tasty bruschetta.

Eating Thai

The coconut milk in Thai curries is high in saturated fat, so maybe ease up on the sauce. Clear soups such as Tom Yum and steamed seafood are the healthiest choice.

Other options

  • If you’re craving a kebab, shish kebab with pitta bread is a healthier option.
  • Fancy a burger? Opt for a single patty and take it easy on the cheese, mayo and bacon.
  • Finally, if you find yourself in the chipper: the thicker the chips, the better. This is down to the fact they absorb less fat than thin-cut ones. Similarly, a breadcrumb coating for fish is better than batter as it soaks up less fat. A side of mushy peas or beans will provide protein and antioxidant benefits.

For more articles on nutrition, head for the Health Hub