Top Tips for Takeout
One out of every three adults in New Hampshire has prediabetes. Two out of every three of us are overweight. Having prediabetes or being overweight can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The good news is that healthy eating, increased physical activity and modest weight loss can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by 58%, according to research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Healthy eating is a habit that is formed over time. During the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program, we recommend tracking total calories and eating healthy portions of the right foods. Your plate should be half filled with vegetables, one-quarter with a lean protein, and the remaining one-quarter with a carbohydrate (see figure).
The same principles for eating healthily at home apply to takeout, too. Here are our top tips for healthy eating when ordering takeout.
1. Plan Ahead
- Pick where you order takeout carefully. Choose a restaurant that offers low-fat choices.
- Read the menu online and look up nutrition information before you order.
- Choose a low-fat option or ask for you protein to be prepared in healthier way: grilled, roasted, baked or steamed, for example.
- Eat less fat and fewer calories during other meals that day.
- Eat a little something before you order takeout or drink a large, low-calorie beverage.
- Don't drink alcohol before eating.
- Plan to eat only one-half of the meal. Either split it with someone or save the rest for another time.
2. Choose Foods Carefully
Watch out for (avoid) food with the following words or descriptions—Au gratin, breaded, buttered or buttery, cheese sauce, fried, deep fried, french fried, batter fried, pan fried, gravy, hollandaise, parmesan, pastry, rich, sautéed, scalloped, seasoned, and southern style.
Look for these low-fat words, instead: baked, broiled, boiled, grilled, poached, roasted, steamed, or stir-fried.
3. Order what you want. Avoid extra calories and fat:
- Ask for lower-fat foods.
- Ask if a fried dish can be cooked in a different way.
- Don't be afraid to ask for foods that aren't on the menu.
- Ask how much is usually served.
- Order salad dressing, gravy, sauces, or spreads "on the side."
- Ask for less cheese or no cheese.
- Order a small size (appetizer, senior citizen's, children's size).
Here are some more specific takeout tips...
- Pizza: Order a garden or house salad alongside your pie. Use vegetable toppings rather than high-fat meats. Choose thin-crust if you can (fewer carbohydrates). Skip the extra cheeses. Limit yourself to 1 slice (or 2 slices if it's a small pizza).
- Fast Food: Order grilled chicken pieces, sandwiches on whole-grain or wheat bread or salads.
- Asian Fare: Order soup (miso, wonton or hot and sour), salad, edamame, or steamed dumplings for an appetizer. For your entree, order teriyaki chicken breast; sushi and sashimi; stir-fried beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu; steamed rice and vegetables; and brown rice (vs. white rice). Ask for your entree to be steamed (if it is usually cooked with oil) and for any sauce to be served on the side. Avoid fried spring rolls or dumplings, tempura, peanut sauce, and breaded cutlets of meat.
- American Fare: Order grilled chicken or poached fish entrees—avoid fried and battered options. Don't eat the skin if the chicken comes with the skin still on it. Try turkey or veggie burgers, or a cheese less beef burger with tomato and lettuce. Add on 2 vegetable side dishes (e.g., steamed green beans, broccoli, or spinach) and up to 3 servings of low-fat carbohydrates (e.g., steamed brown rice, baked sweet potato, whole-grain bread, corn, fruit, low-fat milk). Avoid mayonnaise, cheese, "special sauces," bacon, deep-fried foods of any kind, club sandwiches, ribs and fatty cuts of meat, french fries and gravy. Ask for foods to be steamed or roasted instead of fried, or cooked with less fat.
- Italian Fare: For an appetizer, order grilled calamari, salad with the dressing on the side, or a caprese salad. For your entrée, order grilled fish and meat specials, and substitute veggies for the side of pasta. Choose dishes served in a broth or tomato-based sauce rather than a cream sauce. Ask for less butter to be added to dishes like chicken picatta or chicken marsala. Skip the bread basket and heavier dishes like risotto and lasagna. Also avoid bruschetta, garlic bread, antipastos that are marinated in oil, deep fried calamari, stuffed clams or mushrooms, and stuffed artichokes.
- Mexican Fare: Order salad or black bean soup for an appetizer, and grilled fajitas with beef, chicken, seafood, or the grilled fish or meat special with rice and black beans on the side as your entree. Avoid extra cheese, sour cream, fried hard taco shells and chips, nachos, chimichangas, creamy chowders, chili con carne, refried beans and fried ice cream.
- Subs: Order turkey, lean ham, or roast beef on whole-grain bread. Request a lot of vegetable toppings. Use mustard and vinegar instead of oil and mayonnaise.
- Soups/Sandwiches: Order soup/sandwich/salad combo meals. Choose broth or tomato-based soups and whole grain breads with mustard instead of mayonnaise. Ask for salad dressing on the side.
Healthy eating habits, combined with regular physical activity, will not only help you look and feel better, but you'll also reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some kinds of cancer.
The YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program can help you develop lifelong healthy habits. Eight YMCA locations in the state of New Hampshire—and 200 other Ys around the country—help thousands of people reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This small-group program helps people with prediabetes to eat more healthily, increase their physical activity, and lose weight, which can delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Call 603.232.8668 or visit our website for more info and to sign up for a program where you live.