Don't ban the takeaway - healthier options for ordering in
When you're sticking to a healthy diet and exercise regime, it can be hard to resist the urge to order a takeaway. A long day at the office or lack of time leaves you feeling like you can't be bothered cooking – we've all been there! The good news is that whilst you shouldn't indulge too often, you can still enjoy a takeaway as an occasional treat. The key is to order the right items to ensure your fortnightly or monthly treat doesn't become an all-out calorific splurge. We've narrowed down some of the best items to order from the nation's most popular takeaways, to help you make sensible choices the next time you're enjoying an Indian, Chinese or pizza.
There's nothing quite like a curry for an indulgent treat, but try to avoid deep-fried starters such as bhaji and steer yourself away from creamy curries. Instead, opt for tomato-based sauces such as madras or tandoori – not only are these lower in calories, you'll also benefit from the lycopene and antioxidants in the tomatoes. Fill up on vegetable side dishes such as lentil dhal and swap your usual pilau rice for plain boiled rice. Chapati is a healthier option than naan bread.
Healthy choice: Chicken tikka (not masala) with plain boiled rice and chapati, or chicken/prawn/vegetable madras or tandoori
Burgers and kebabs
When the late-night urge for a kebab strikes, avoid doner kebabs as these are packed with saturated fat. Instead choose a shish kebab, made from vegetables and cubes of grilled meat or fish, for a leaner option. If it's a burger you fancy, stay away from cheese, mayonnaise and battered or breaded chicken. A single beefburger or chicken breast burger with extra salad is high in protein – the salad counts towards your five-a-day.
Healthy choice: Grilled shish kebab with pitta and salad or beef/chicken burger with salad
Chinese food is notorious for being high in fat, sugar and salt, and it often also has added MSG. Choose a takeaway which serves MSG-free food and avoid anything described as 'crispy' on the menu – this usually means it has been deep fried! Battered chicken or pork, spring rolls, prawn toast and prawn crackers are all high in fat – if you're ordering a starter, opt for crab or chicken and sweetcorn soup or steamed dumplings. Choose stir-fried dishes with plenty of vegetables and swap egg-fried rice for boiled rice.
Healthy choice: Steamed dumplings, chicken chop suey, beef and broccoli or stir-fried dishes with vegetables and plain boiled rice
Fish and chips
A trip to the chippie can be bad for your health, but it doesn't have to be that way! There are healthier options if you think sensibly. Have a smaller portion of chips, or share with someone else, and ask for no salt – you can control how much you add at home. Don't eat all of the batter surrounding your fish, as this is packed with calories.
If possible, ask for breaded fish, and order some mushy peas or baked beans to boost your vegetable intake. Avoid sausages and pies which are high in fat.
Healthy choice: Breaded or battered fish – this is high in omega 3. Small portion of chips and mushy peas.
If you absolutely have to have pizza, choose low-fat toppings. Tuna, prawns, ham and plenty of vegetables are the best options. The tomato base on pizza provides antioxidants, but by loading your thin, crispy base with colourful vegetables such as peppers, red onions and sweetcorn, you'll be boosting your vegetable quota for the day. Avoid deep-pan bases and garlic bread – this is usually filled with lots of garlic butter and fat.
Healthy choice: Stick to a small or medium thin, crispy pizza with lean protein such as ham, tuna or prawns and plenty of vegetables. Or make your own pizza at home with our amazing pizza base recipe!
As you can see, takeaways don't have to be a calorific nightmare - provided you don't eat them too often, you can still enjoy your favourite takeaway as part of a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regime.