Too busy to cook? Here’s how to order healthier take-out food this season
Many of us enjoy ordering take-out food frequently nowadays. We have good intentions of eating healthy home-cooked meals but given the hectic pace of our lives, sometimes it just cannot be avoided.
What happens when you are so busy with work that you cannot cook? Do you just forget about your intention to stay healthy and get lost in your work until you crave the wrong foods? It is easy to end up doing that.
Take-out food does not always mean eating ‘unhealthy food’. We are living in an age where several startups have come up with the vision to provide us with better choices. This does not mean that all of them are good for you but following some overall guidelines while choosing food can help you a great deal.
Make the right choices
Overall, there can be some general guidelines and cuisines that might be easier on your gut and your health than other foods.
Here are some tips on how to order healthy take-out food:
Find a way to choose restaurants that deliver whole grains versus processed ones. When ordering South Indian meals, you probably will get a balanced meal with lentils, condiments, powders and vegetables. When ordering north Indian meals, ask for brown rice with your simple dal and sabzi. You need to be careful about salads as they can be contaminated easily.
- Choose safe proteins. Dairy products like paneer can be contaminated and beans can be poorly soaked and cooked, making them hard on your digestion and gut health. When you soak them at home you end up soaking them for much longer. Staying with lighter proteins like mung is easier.
- Animal proteins can be really tricky given the cost. Ensure that you buy non-vegetarian food from a reputable source. Most people get really bad gut infections after eating animal proteins from certain restaurants. Poultry in India is rarely grass-fed and free-range and therefore best avoided. Mutton and lamb are mostly free-range and far safer. Fish is a good choice most of the time.
Whatever is your choice of cuisine, make sure that you prioritise vegetables. If you are ordering from a place that is well-reputed, salads can be fine. If not, order stir-fried vegetables and any Indian sabzi. There are definitely more options today than cucumber, tomato and onion as salads. Avoid ordering appetisers that are batter fried and opt for stir-fried vegetables instead.
- Avoid ordering fried food from restaurants. Even the best places cut costs with fats and end up reusing them. Oils that are reused are one of the most toxic foods that can enter your body. They raise oxidative stress and impact energy production right at the source of your energy production which are your cells. If you crave fried food occasionally it is best to make your own version in your own home. The big chains and franchises are the worst offenders in term of bad quality fats.
- Avoid buying dairy products from outside. Unless it is some good quality yoghurt, dairy can be very toxic when you order from outside. The big culprits are ice creams, cottage cheese, several foods that use cheese and cream used in many meals. This also means avoiding white sauces which are high in poor quality dairy and processed starches. Staying with sauces like marinara in Italian cuisine is far better on your overall health.
- Make sure that there are not too many sugars in your meals. Many mocktails can be extremely high in sugars and food colouring. Choosing a simple ginger lemon soda can be more helpful to your digestion when compared to a mocktail that is loaded with sugar syrup. The same goes with fruit punch. Several foods like bhel puri can be sugar-laden meals when compared to a traditional bhel puri prepared with a date chutney at home.
Watch out for desserts
Desserts are very tricky. Many places which deliver desserts can use a whole load of ingredients that can be hard to digest including fresh cream, food colouring and high amounts of refined sugar.
Desserts from places which focus on making desserts from whole nuts and seeds, jaggery, honey, coconut sugar, whole-grain pastry shells and ghee can be a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Look for options like ghee and walnut tart which can provide your body with healthy fats and wholesome nuts filled with omega 3. Avoid cream-filled pastries and refined flour croissants.
Listen to your body. Your body knows which food is filled with good ingredients. When your body rebels after a bad meal.
is because it knows the difference. When you feel full of energy and your mind feels alert, then you know that you have made a great choice.
(Images credit: Shutterstock)
Edited by Asha Chowdary
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)