Everyone has evenings when they do not want to cook or go out to a restaurant…and what do we all do on these evenings? Take out the stack of take-out menus and begin the decision process. But what does the person do who’s trying to stick to their New Year’s diet? Not to worry, read on for a handy guide on how to order take-out without a side of guilt.
Pizza: Get a pizza with lots of veggie toppings and bypass the fatty meats. The most common meat toppings are pepperoni and sausage, two meats that are high in both fat and sodium. A lot of pizzerias are offering whole wheat crusts as well. This is a great way to get some extra fiber. Also, order a side salad — you’ll fill up on the fresh vegetables and find yourself eating less of the pie.
Italian: If you are getting pasta, ask if they offer whole wheat. Stick with tomato based sauces, such as marinara. A bowl of fettuccine alfredo can tip the scales at almost 800 calories, while a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce is less than 400.
Chinese: Pick an entrée that contains meat without breading, which can add 200 to 300 calories per serving. Also, stick to brown rice. It will add some extra fiber, which keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time. Ask for the sauce on the side and use it more as a dipping sauce rather than a bathing sauce.
Greek/Mediterranean: Here there are actually a lot of options. Grilled chicken souvlaki is a great choice (at less than 400 calories), as well as a standard Greek Salad, which is usually a mix of fresh vegetables and feta cheese (a harder cheese which means it’s lower in fat) in a simple vinaigrette. Most meat entrees are grilled or broiled with little fat at any Mediterranean restaurant, and served with a choice of vegetable side, lemon potatoes or sautéed greens. Falafel on the other hand, while it is ground chickpeas, is fried which means your basic falafel sandwich can be 600 calories and 30g of fat!
Mexican: Most dishes are covered in cheese, which taste great, but aren’t so great for our waistlines. I think the key here is portion control. An entire burrito can be in the neighborhood of 1,200 calories. Eat only 1/3 of it, or at most 1/2. Put the portion you want to eat on a smaller plate and leave the rest of it for another day. This tip is great for your wallet too! Also, getting a vegetable burrito, taco, etc instead of a meat entrée will help cut the calories and fat.
Diner: I find the “diet” sections of most diner menus to be pretty depressing, and basically ignore them. There are definitely other ways to find healthy options. Ask for a side salad with your burger instead of fries, most diners can accommodate that request. If your entrée comes with soup and/or salad, I usually eat the soup/salad (lower in calories and fat) and ask to take half of my actual entrée home.