Given most takeaway options are often high in energy, saturated fat, sodium and sugar, regularly eating these foods could lead to various health issues, such as, having an elevated cholesterol or high blood pressure.
So, in an era where we tend to be time poor and often turn to takeaways and junk food out of convenience, what are the healthier options?
Healthier takeaway choices include:
Salads – Choose ones with lots of colourful non-starchy vegetables with some protein (legumes, salmon, nuts/seeds, egg, poultry or lean meats) and/or whole grains (eg quinoa or buckwheat) to help you feel fuller for longer.
Stir-fry - Stir-fried legumes, fish, seafood, chicken or lean meat with lots of colourful non-starchy vegetables, rather than sweet n sour pork or other deep-fried dishes, such as wontons.
Filled pita, wrap or turkish kebab filled with lots of salad, some falafel, chicken or lean meat and a little hummus or yoghurt dressing
Vegetable or yogurt-based Indian dishes – watch out for filled naan bread (e.g. garlic) and ghee, cream or butter-based sauces
Japanese and sushi – traditionally a healthy choice. Opt for brown rice (if available) with plenty of vegetables. Oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, sashimi provides omega-3 which helps support healthy brains and hearts. Fried dishes, such as tempura and katsu, will be higher in energy. Also watch for sodium, as soy sauce packs a punch!
Sandwich or filled roll with lots of salad on wholegrain bread. Remember to hold the butter and instead opt for healthy fats, such as avocado, mayo, hummus, or nut butters.
Burgers with a wholegrain bun (or ditch the bun and wrap in lettuce) with lots of salad. Remember cheese and sauces will often add extra energy, saturated fat, sodium and/or sugar.
Crumbed/grilled fish – instead of battered fish, or take the batter off instead.
Thin crust pizza with lots of vegetables and minimal cheese. Watch out for extra cheese, stuffed crusts and meat-lovers varieties.
Chunky cut fries rather than shoestring – but only have a small handful and watch the salt. Alternatively opt for a baked potato instead.
Our top tips for making your takeaways healthier
- Add lots of salad and vegetables to your meal home – aim to fill 1/2 your plate
- The more colourful the better – make sure you have a rainbow of colours in your meal, and not just all brown and white
- Choose foods which will fill you up - such as those which contain some fibre (fruit, vegetables, wholegrains) and protein (legumes, seafood, eggs, chicken, lean meat or dairy)
- Pay attention to your sauces and dressings – these can add extra saturated fat, sugar, salt and energy to your meal. When using dressings, choose ones based on healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil.
- Choose from the ‘healthy choice’ menu, if there is one available.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for something to be added or removed e.g. switching fries for a baked potato or salad.
- Watch your portions sizes – Remember you don’t have to eat all the food that is served up. Fill a small plate and then share the rest with a friend or simply discard any leftovers. You might also be able to ask for a 1/2 size portion.
- Experiment making your own healthy ‘take-away’ style meals at home – a grilled, lean meat patty on a wholegrain bun with lots of salad, is not only much tastier but also healthier than what you may get at many fast-food chains. It can also take you less time to prepare than heading out to pick up takeaways too! You could also try picking up a bag of salad and a roast chicken or hot smoked salmon from the supermarket, for an instant ready meal, when you get home.
Remember, takeaways can also be a treat that can be savoured and enjoyed. Find out more about how to savour every mouthful in our blog about Mindful Eating.