Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the number of people ordering takeout or food delivery seems been higher than ever before. With more people reluctant to leave the house, takeout or delivery have felt like safer options. For many, it’s also been something to look forward to after a long week. While we might not be able to go out and dine at our favorite restaurants, we can still look forward to ordering a special meal. Plus, many of us want to do what we can to support small businesses in our community.
While that’s all commendable, what has it meant for sticking to a healthy eating plan?
Fortunately, we believe that you can find ways to order takeout or delivery and still stick to your plans to lose weight. In order to help you make smarter choices, we’ve rounded up some tips for choosing healthy food options for takeout or delivery.
1. Remember, it starts with your order.
At Nutrisystem, we’ve always acknowledged that dining out can have a social or entertainment factor that we don’t feel you should miss out on just because you’re trying to lose weight. That’s why we’ve offered numerous tips for dining out that help you to have the best of both worlds. Ultimately, a good majority of these tips boil down to making smart food choices and only ordering healthy meals. Just because you’re dining out does not mean you have to choose the unhealthiest menu items. Well, the same goes for takeout or delivery! Pay attention to what you’re ordering. Choose grilled meats over fried ones. Choose a green vegetable as a side as opposed to French fries. Try to pay attention to how your vegetables are prepared. Ask for them steamed and without butter. Since you’re ordering at home, you have even more time to research your menu options and make a smart selection.
2. Beware of “healthy choice” traps.
We’ve talked about the fact that a salad isn’t always your healthiest option when ordering at a restaurant. The same is true, of course, for takeout or delivery. If a salad is smothered in a high-fat dressing and/or packed with toppings like bacon, cheese or fried chicken strips, the health factor of the veggies can be quickly negated. Just be wary of choices that sound like a healthy option but really are not. You can make simple changes—such as a lower fat dressing on the side—that increase the health factor of your meal. Since you’re eating at home, you could even use a homemade or store-bought dressing that you know is a better choice!
3. Skip the drink.
If you are ordering healthy food for takeout or delivery, it’s even easier to forgo the sugary beverage and just drink water from home. Sometimes if everyone else at the table is ordering an alcoholic beverage or a soda, you might be tempted to follow suit. But at home you can try to drink more water and avoid getting empty calories from a beverage. It’s a simple change that can go a really long way in eating healthier. We find that people often underestimate just how many calories they’re getting from beverages in a day. And like meal portions, restaurant drinks are often oversized.
4. Pass on dessert.
In the same way that it’s easier to pass on an added beverage when you’re eating at home, you can also forgo the restaurant-bought dessert. You won’t have any peer pressure or feel like you’re missing out. Instead, you can have one of these healthier dessert options that will still satisfy your sweet tooth without derailing your diet. Don’t have time to make something yourself? Nutrisystem has plenty of premade desserts that are ready-to-go when temptation strikes! Instead of skipping dessert altogether, you can simply make a smarter choice at home.
5. Be cautious about mindless eating.
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of mindful eating. When we’re not paying attention to what we’re eating, it can be easy to overdo it. The trouble is, when eating at home, we are more prone to mindless eating. If you’re eating in front of the television or even while scrolling through your phone, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve consumed. It’s important to slow down, shut off the distractions and pay closer attention. In this way, we end up enjoying our food more, too.
6. Portion food ahead of time.
You’re already aware that restaurant portions are almost always oversized and more than we should be eating in a single meal. We’ve provided tips in the past like boxing up half of the meal ahead of eating what’s left on your plate. The same goes for eating healthy takeout or food delivery. In fact, this might even be easier to do at home! Take out a plate from home and serve what you’ll be eating from the takeout containers, then put the rest of the boxes right into the fridge. Do not even give yourself the chance to overeat! If you’ll be able to get several meals out of a single order, divide it into individual Tupperware containers for other days. Now, you have pre-portioned meals ready-to-go.
7. Split a meal with the family.
While sharing meals is sometimes discouraged at restaurants, when you order takeout or delivery, it’s up to you what you do with the food! Order one dinner but split it with your spouse, significant other or child. This is another great way to avoid overeating on oversized restaurant portions. We love that restaurants are being incredibly generous with their portions, particularly during these trying times. But when it comes to making healthy choices, dividing those portions into multiple meals—for multiple people—is the easiest way to enjoy a special treat without overdoing it.