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6 Healthy Take Out Tips: Yes, You Can Have Your Lo Mein and Eat It, Too (Sort Of)

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In a perfectly healthy world, we’d all sit down to enjoy a home-cooked dinner made from 100 percent wholesome, non-processed, organic, GMO-free, sustainably raised, local ingredients Every. Single. Night.--where there's never an overcooked vegetable, or an uneaten grain of rice (or an ounce of boredom with the food, either, right?). But we live in the real world. Sometimes, take-out dinners are a necessity – but you can use these healthy take out tips to make your indulgences all that much better for your body, not just your palate.

  1. Divide and conquer. Restaurant meals are notorious for their huge portion sizes, and take-out meals are no different. When your dinner arrives (or the bags hit the table), divide it before you start eating – into halves or even thirds. You’ll eat less, and you’ll already have your lunch planned for the next day.
  2. Eat sides as your main. Vegetarians know this trick well. Many side dishes are focused on vegetables, and they often contain much less fat and sodium than heavier main dishes. Plus, they are often fresher. Sides are often made to order in restaurants, whereas main dishes may be prepped at the beginning of the night. Fill up on broccoli and carrots, and you’ll be less hungry for the beef lo mein. Just don’t be fooled and assume that appetizers are the same as sides – they are bigger portions, and often loaded with fat and sugar.
  3. Pizza is the perennial dine-in favorite – always a hit with the kids, and delivered to your door in no time. But it’s not known as a healthy takeaway meal. Make pizza healthier by ordering a thin crust pie, and piling on the vegetable toppings. If you must have a meat – choose one. Skip the tempting extras, such as crust toppings, sauce drizzles, sides of chicken wings, and breadsticks (they never taste as good as you think they will, anyway). If possible, supplement your pizza with a fresh green salad and vinaigrette dressing – and stick to two pieces, max. To avoid midnight noshing later on in the evening, immediately freeze any uneaten pizza by wrapping in plastic wrap then foil.
  4. Asian take-out? Use the chopsticks. Chopsticks force you to eat slower, and to take smaller bites. The side effect is more conscious eating. You’ll enjoy each bite more, and will notice when you start getting full. For pizza, cutting each slice with a knife and fork can function in the same way. Eat small bites of pizza, instead of shoving the whole slice in your mouth with your hands.
  5. Order the sauce on the side. When your dinner is drenched in sauce, it can be hard to determine exactly how much you are eating – and sauces are often full of butter, oil, heavy cream, and other calorie bombs. One healthy takeaway option is to try your sauce on the side. You may be surprised by how little of it you actually want to eat.
  6. Watch the extras. Burrito to go? It’s tempting to pile on the shredded cheese and sour cream – but how much do you truly enjoy those additions? Are they really worth the extra saturated fat and calories? Bulk up your burrito with fiber-rich ingredients and fresh vegetables instead. If you can’t do without something creamy, go for the guacamole.

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