Busy lifestyles compete with time spent in the home kitchen. On a weeknight, ordering takeout can seem like the easiest, most convenient option. Eating out provides convenient nourishment as well as opportunities for socializing, celebrating, and experiencing new flavors. There is nothing wrong with eating out because it is one of life’s pleasures. However, it is good to make mindful decisions and if you look closely, you can find dishes that aren’t full of cheese, red meat, sugar, or half a day’s calories. Changing the way we order meals can improve nutritional quality without sacrificing convenience or taste.
Tips to rethink takeout:
- Stick to one starch. The default is often double refined carbs like a hamburger and fries. Go with your favorite starch and try to make it a whole grain.
- Replace red meat. Get poultry, seafood, or beans. Also, look for the words grilled, steamed, lightly sautéed, baked and roasted on the menu.
- Load up on vegetables. Choose vegetable-based side dishes, pile vegetables onto your burrito bowl and don’t be afraid to try a vegetarian meal!
- Mind the sodium. Nearly all food served in restaurants is too salty. More vegetables can help counter the sodium in other items.
- Dressing on the side. Ask for any dressings, oil, butter or sauces on the side so that you can choose how much you add to your dish.
- Be mindful of portion sizes. Portion sizes are scaling up. Today’s “medium” is often yesterday’s “extra-large.” Share your meal with a friend or family member. Set aside half of your entree to save for another meal before you begin eating.
- Make water your beverage of choice. It is easy to forget about the sneaky calories in sugar-sweetened or alcoholic beverages.
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