When eating out and buying takeaway foods you can still make healthy choices!
Below are some tips to making healthy food choices when eating out.
- Ask staff how meals are prepared to see if there are healthy options available e.g. grilled instead of fried, and if there is a lot of cheese and cream in the meal.
- Eat slowly and enjoy the flavours.
- Appreciate the conversations at the table to slow down your eating.
- Stop before each mouthful, and consider your fullness. It is okay to leave food on the plate; you can always ask to take leftovers home.
- Choose fresh bread without oil, margarine or butter.
- Pick clear or vegetable soups over creamy soups.
- Ask for a jug of water for the table.
- Have a drink of water to quench your thirst before eating.
- Drink water, plain mineral or soda water, diet soft drink, coffee, tea, juice or lemon, lime and bitters.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, drink no more than 2 standard drinks, and take small, slow sips.
- Have salads without bacon, croutons, cheese, mayonnaise or oily dressings.
- Request a salad without the dressing or on the side, or ask for a vinegar or lemon juice dressing.
- Choose clear, bean, noodle or vegetable soups over creamy soups.
- Pick salads and vegetables without dressings and oils, and pasta dishes with tomato or vegetables-based sauces.
- Try to stick to one plate of food to prevent going back for more serves.
- Order a side of salad or vegetables if they do not come with your meal.
- Select vegetables to be steamed, boiled, grilled, baked or stir-fried without sauces, creams or dressings.
- Choose lean red meat/fish/egg/skinless chicken or vegetables that are grilled, barbequed, steamed, baked without pastry.
- Request that sauces and dressings are served on the side. This way you can control the amount of sauce/dressing you have.
- Limit deep-fried foods and creamy sauces.
- Order an entrée size or kid’s meal to control portion size.
- Choose fruit-based desserts instead of pastries and cakes.
- Share a dessert with a friend.
- If you have tea or coffee request skim milk.
- Avoid complimentary biscuits or chocolates.
See below how to make your favourite cuisine healthy and tasty!
- Mexican foods that contain a lot of cheese, such as nachos are high in fat and should be avoided.
- Tacos, tortillas and burritos filled with lean meat, lots of salad and minimal cheese are healthy options.
- Avocado dips are also high in fat and should be consumed in moderation.
- Spiced, char-grilled meats, chicken and seafood, along with dishes consisting of beans and legumes are healthy choices.
- Choose vegetable or clear noodle soups.
- Select steamed rice over fried rice.
- Pick stir-fried dishes rather than deep-fried dishes.
- Choose steamed dim sims, prawn dumplings, chilli squid, chilli octopus, cold rolls, sushi or steamed fish for low-fat choices.
- Limit honey and lemon chicken as they are high in fat due to being battered and deep fried.
- Choose dishes with legumes and vegetables.
- Beef, chicken, seafood and/or vegetables curries with steamed rice are good choices.
- Choose curries with tomato or yoghurt bases.
- Pick plain roti or chapatti breads (without oil, cheese or margarine).
- Request plain bread instead of garlic bread.
- Choose minestrone and vegetable-based soups.
- Pick tomato, vegetable and seafood based sauces; avoid cream-based sauces.
- Choose pizzas with a thin crust and base, minimal cheese and seafood, lean meat or vegetable toppings.
- Use minimal parmesan cheese if at all!
Greek and Lebanese
- Bean, vegetable and tomato-based soups are healthy choices.
- Request plain pita bread without oils and dressings.
- Many dips are high in fat. Use small quantities and pick hummus dip (prepared with chickpeas), or tzatziki dip (made from yoghurt) which are healthier choices.
- A yiro filled with lean meat, lots of salad and a yoghurt-based garlic sauce, vegetable and legume casseroles, and stuffed vine/cabbage leaves are a healthy options.
- Avoid cheese and pastry meals as they are high in fat.
Want to know how to make healthy choices when buying food on the go?
- Choose high fibre breads e.g. multigrain, wholemeal, rye, barley, mixed grain, fruit and nut
- Fill sandwiches, rolls, wraps and baguettes with lean meats, skinless chicken and plenty of salad
- Avoid extras such as butter, margarine, mayonnaise
- Choose mustard, cranberry, chutney and pickle dressings as low-fat choices
- At Subway, pick 6inch subs from the “Under 6” menu, as these have less than 6 grams of fat per 6inch sub
- Most burgers from takeaway outlets are high in fat, saturated fat and salt, and therefore are not a healthy option.
- Some burger outlets have low-fat options e.g. McDonalds Healthy Choice menu.
- Select wholemeal or wholegrain buns if available.
- Choose grilled meat, chicken or fish.
- Request more salad fillings, and avoid fillings such as egg, bacon, cheese and mayonnaise. Choose tomato sauce as a healthy option.
- Pick diet soft drinks, soda water or bottled water, instead of original soft drinks.
- Avoid having fries.
- Choose the smaller size; avoid ‘super’, ‘triple’ or ‘whopper’ meal deals.
- Choose thin based and thin crust pizzas.
- Choose toppings with seafood, lean meat or vegetable toppings. Avoid fatty meat toppings (e.g. salami, bacon, pepperoni).
Fish and Chicken
- Choose salads with minimal dressing or oil.
- BBQ/rotisserie chicken is a healthy choice is the chicken skin is removed. Deep-fried chicken (e.g. KFC) is still high in fat even if the skin is removed.
- Choose roast potatoes instead of chips.
- Try to avoid chips as they have a high fat content. If you choose to have chips, have a small serve and pick thick-cut chips. Thin chips/French fries absorb more fat than thick chips.
- Request tomato or BBQ sauce instead of gravy.
- Have chicken without the stuffing.
- Ask for fish to be grilled rather than deep fried.
- Keep mayonnaise and tartare sauce to a minimum.
- Hamburgers, steak sandwiches and yiros are healthy choices if filled with plenty of salad and lean grilled meats. Avoid extras such as butter, margarine, cheese, mayonnaise, bacon, fried egg and onion.
Snack bar and Deli
- Fresh fruit is a healthy snack option.
- Choose sandwiches, rolls, wraps and baguettes with fresh salad and lean meat fillings.
- Baked potatoes, grilled steak sandwiches, yiros are also healthy options.
- Avoid sausage rolls, pies and pasties as these are high fat choices.
- Baked potatoes can be a healthy choice if filled with healthy options.
- Choose salad, beans, coleslaw, beetroot, lean meats, pineapple and/or skinless chicken, with a small amount of grated cheese. Choose low-fat yoghurt or cottage cheese in place of sour cream.
- Choose sushi, steamed dim sims, cold rolls, steamed rice/ fish/ vegetables, stir-fried meats and vegetables.
- Avoid fried foods like spring rolls, fried dim sims, fried noodles, battered meat and vegetables and fried rice. Also avoid coconut-based curries.
Sausage sizzles, hotdogs
- Avoid extras such as margarine, bacon, cheese and fried onion.
Want to know more?
- The NSW Food Authority have developed the 8700 smart phone application. This is a helpful tool that can help you to choose healthier options when eating out. It is free to download and available on iTunes and Android.
- The Diabetes Centre, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital 2010, Healthy takeaways and eating out, viewed 7 March 2013
- Catherine Saxelby Foodwatch n.d., Dining out on a diet, viewed 7 March 2013
- Catherine Saxelby Foodwatch n.d., Fast food healthy options, viewed 7 March 2013