There's no denying that a fresh home cooked meal is the best thing for your health and fitness goal, but every now and again (more often for some) you'll need to order a takeaway or have to eat out.
This cheatsheet is designed to cut through the bull and get straight to the point. No matter how much we know about how bad a meal is for us, at the end of the day we just want to make the best choices out of a bad situation.
Here are a few tactics you can do before you've even ordered;
Drink plenty of water before, during and after your meal. This is not only a great technique to stop yourself from overeating but keeping yourself hydrated will help eliminate the thirsty symptoms from the sodium rich meals. Eat a high protein meal 2 hours prior as this will not only make sure your body is receiving a quality source of protein but again this will help with overeating. Increased protein can help with satiety.
Also don't starve yourself before hand, this is a tactic we see often when people are going out or ordering a meal with friends and family (especially when dieting). Going into a meal hungry will not only increase your chances of overeating but your discipline will be lowered and you're more likely to choose bad options.
Now that you're ready for your meal, here are you best options.
Skip on the added extra's like popadoms etc. and keep your calories for your meal.
Avoid anything fried as this is always a bad option so excluding these options are always best.
Skip on a starter and ask for a cup of tea or coffee as watching everyone else eat isn't fun so make sure you have something to sip on (this will also help you stay off the wine).
Always order your meat from the grill as most good Indian restaurants have great cooking facilities so the tastes are unreal. Skip the Masala and other sauce based meals as they're filled with sugar, fat and unwanted calories. Control your rice and bread portions since these are generally bigger than you'll need so try and share with others. Opt for as many vegetable dishes as possible since this is a not only a great way to bulk out your plate but it will save you from reaching for the desserts at the end.
Skip on the desserts and again ask for a coffee, tea or water. You'll be surprised how may calories you'll save by doing this.
Start your meal with some green tea or ice cold water, coffee is also fine. Skip on the fried options and starters.
Always opt for the steamed version of a meal where possible since steamed dumplings and vegetables will save you a bunch of calories compared to the alternative. Pass on the noodles, which are made from refined white flour and often arrive soaking in oil and ask for the fibre rich brown rice instead of white. Cut your carbs portion in 1/2 and ask for any sauces on the side.
This isn't our favourite takeaway option but you can get some great cuts of meats if you focus on the quality here. Late night kebab shops are not quality!
Stick with chicken and ask for a small portion and skip the sides, you don't need them. Also ask for the sauce on the side to save on the sugar and calories and load your kebab as much salad as possible. Opt for wholewheat pitta where possible and only eat half of your pitta bread.
We're not talking fast food here but a real Burger place. Fast food options should be at the bottom of your list. Skip on the unnecessary starters as your main meal will be calorie rich. Only double up on your patty if you're bulking or your skipping the fries on the side and top your burger with nutrient rich avocado's and tomatoes instead of the cheese and bacon.
Ask for a single portion of cheese and bacon if you must but you must skip on the fries and onion rings or choose sweet potato fries or a side salad instead. Always ask for your sauces on the side so you can dip into it instead of having it cover your meal. Avoid the milkshakes and opt for a tea, coffee or water.
Start by choosing a burrito bowl, naked burrito or fajitas. These are the best meals when it comes to Mexican food. Choose black beans over refried beans and pass on the nachos to start since they're full of calories you don't need. Load your meal with as many vegetables as possible and ask for a half portion of the rice serving since cutting back on the large carb portion will help.
Italian / Pizzeria
Skip on the breads, oil and olives. These are great way to increase your overall calorie intake without realising.
If you can choose a steak and vegetables option or opt for a steak/chicken salad. If your ordering a pizza choose the thinnest crust you can and load it up with vegetables and lean meats as possible. Skip on the the sodium loaded processed meats such as pepperoni, ham and salami.
If they have a wholewheat base option, choose that and ask for a side salad. Any chance you get at adding some greens to your diet is always good.
Now before everyone begins to ask what's the point of eating out or ordering in if you can't choose what you really want and we understand that but this guide isn't for those of you who reward your hard work with a meal you enjoy. This guide is for those of you who have a busy social and work life and need help managing your menu since you're eating out more than you'd like to.
If you're going out and its your cheat meal then by all means enjoy yourself but if it's not your cheat day then don't waste your hard work and stay consistent. No one is perfect but the more right choices you make the better.
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