Choosing carry-out over dining in can already set you up for health success. Dining environments are created to increase your intake. The lighting, the colors, the menus, the starters, the drinks – all designed with one goal in mind – to increase your intake as much as possible. Decreasing these environmental cues can be a huge part of improving the health of your meal. So, we’re already winning! But, what else can we do?
- Decide what you’re ordering in advance. We make our poorest food choices when we are already hungry. If you’re choosing carry-out for dinner, decide in the morning after breakfast what you plan on getting. This way you are in full control.
- Skip the starters. Does it come with rolls? Ask for the order without. It’s not easy, but it saves calories.
- Purchase your main dish from a restaurant, but make your own sides at home. This can help save money and calories. Thinking fast-food? Purchase your sandwiches, but then pair with fruit, celery sticks, cottage cheese, etc. from home.
- Choose something you wouldn’t make at home! Don’t know how to cook fish? Carry-out is a great opportunity for you to add variety to your diet.
- Dishes labeled deepfried, panfried, basted, batterdipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo, au gratin, or in cream sauce are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats, or sodium. Order steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead.
- Veggies, veggies, veggies. Think about how to include as many veggies as possible. Choose main dishes that include vegetables, such as stir fries, kebobs, or pasta with a tomato sauce and veggies. Choose veggies as side items or add a side salad.
- Speaking of sides, try and decrease French fries, onion rings, noodles, macaroni and cheese, and so forth. Healthier sides include side salads, fresh fruit, soups or chili or baked potatoes.
- With pizza, order thin crust instead of regular crust, deep dish, or pan. Also, choose veggie toppings vs high-saturated fat meat toppings.
- Drink water with your meal. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. One 32oz Big Gulp of regular cola packs about 425 calories, which can quickly gulp up a big portion of your daily calorie intake. Try adding a little lemon to your water or having unsweetened iced tea.
- Eat mindfully. Pay attention to what you eat and savor each bite. Chew your food more thoroughly and avoid eating on the run. Being mindful also means stopping before you are full. It takes time for your body to register that you have eaten. Mindful eating relaxes you, so you digest better, and makes you feel more satisfied.
Now, when it comes to keeping yourself safe, here are some tips to safely ordering carry-out:
- When picking up carry-out, practice social distancing making sure to stay 6ft away from others. The restaurant worker may have to set food down on a countertop or the curb in order for you to pick-up safely.
- When arriving home with your food, remove all food from the restaurant’s disposable containers and throw containers out. If bags touch your countertops, be sure to disinfect countertops where bags were sitting. Wash hands thoroughly before handling food from there.
- Do not use utensils from restaurants. In order to decrease waste, request they not be included in your bag.
- Do not handle condiments from restaurants unless you’ve disinfected them.
- Wash your hands again before sitting down to eat.
If you’re making healthy choices right now, we want to see it! Post on social media & make sure you use the hashtags #HealthyAtHome & #NThisTogether so we can share healthy ideas with one another. 🙂
Erin Wiedmar, Clinical Nutritionist