Cooking at home is always going to be the best option healthwise (then again, suppose it depends on how good your cooking is!); you know what’s going into your food, you can make a bigger portion so there are leftovers for lunches, and it’s generally more cost effective.
However, we know there are those times when takeaways seem like the better option – whether you’re on the go, you’re getting home too late, or heading out for a social occasion with friends. So we’ve put together a guide on takeaways if you’re trying to watch your nutrition:
What to watch for when it comes to takeaways
The big concerns when it comes to takeaways are the fat content, highly processed foods, salt and sugar. All these things add flavour and may seem appealing, but they can be your worst enemy when it comes to weight loss and maintenance.
Think about how the food would be cooked and that will be a good indication of what’s gone into your takeaways. If you have no idea, ask the restaurant how it’s prepared.
Italian takeaways – pizza
A slice of classic crust BBQ Meatlovers pizza has around 177 calories per slice, while a vegetarian pizza will be closer to 156 calories, so try to choose pizzas with more vegetable content over meaty ones. Opting for thin pizza bases can shave around 20 calories off per slice. Also, best to avoid the garlic bread as it’s usually soaked with butter. Don’t forget to be careful about portion sizes – depending on how healthy the pizza is, a serving size will be somewhere between a couple of slices to half the pizza.
Italian takeaways – pasta
Sauces can sometimes be quite unhealthy when it comes to the added fat, sugar and salt. Try to choose tomato-based sauces (such as napolitana, bolognese etc.) rather than white sauces (carbonara and alfredo sauce usually contain a lot of cream!) and anything with plenty of veges is good. Again, try to steer clear of the garlic bread if you can.
Sweet and sour pork is a big fave in New Zealand, but the way it’s cooked may scare you. The quality of the pork to begin with is often quite fatty, it’s then coated in a batter which is deep fried to seal it, then cooked in a highly sugary sauce. So you can imagine the calories can stack up pretty quickly and same goes for anything cooked in a similar way (such as lemon chicken, honey chicken etc.).
Stirfries with thinner sauces are usually the best option here, steamed foods are better than deep fried ones, and sushi is a low fat winner (just be careful of deep fried tempura).
Burgers and combo meals
Your average small to medium-sized burger is usually not all that bad for you, it’s the chips (fat and salt) and the soft drinks (sugar) where the calories really start adding up. If you really feel the need to have a combo rather than just the burger, opt for diet softdrink – or better yet, water – and avoid the temptation to upsize your combo by sticking to the smallest serving of fries available.
Many chain burger companies now have healthier choice menu options which are your best bet, but also try to stick to grilled options rather than deep fried. Also remember that if a burger is large and laden with sauces, red meats, bacon and cheese etc., it may be worth as much as 50% of your daily energy intake! And that’s without the fries and drink! Scary!
When it comes to Indian food, the paler the sauce, the more cream it usually contains. Tikka, rogan josh, vindaloo (if you’re brave!) and similar darker sauces will contain less fat than the much loved butter chicken and kormas. Rice is usually pretty good as long as the portion is reasonable, however, be careful with naan bread – usually half of one is a good sized serving when you’re having rice as well. And watch the deep fried entrees.
Most kebab places offer 2-3 sauces for no additional cost. Try to stick to just one as sauces can hold a lot of hidden calories, otherwise kebabs can be a pretty good choice as they are packed with salad and generally lean meat.
Fish and chips
Although fish itself is a fantastic food nutrition-wise, this good old Kiwi classic meal is unfortunately heavily battered and deep fried which is not so ideal. If it’s available, opt for grilled fish rather than deep fried, and watch out for the portions of chips as not only do they usually provide a lot, it’s hard to tell how much you’ve eaten when everyone’s sharing from the same pile (a small handful – around 10 or so chunky cut fries – is a serving size).
Photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – Naito8