Published May 22, 2012
Yes, you do want fries with that. Here, how to enjoy takeout without going overboard.
If You Usually Order: Fried vegetable dumplings and shrimp lo mein.
Make It Healthier: Specify steamed dumplings, and ask that your shrimp be served with brown rice (a high-fiber whole grain) rather than noodles (made from refined white flour).
Better Yet: Pile on the vegetables (opt for vitamin- and fiber-rich bok choy and broccoli; go light on less-nutritious baby corn and water chestnuts), and be judicious with sauces (try low-sodium soy).
If You Usually Order: Deep-dish pizza topped with cheese, sausage, and green peppers.
Make It Healthier: Opt for a thin crust, and supplement your meal with a filling, fiber-packed cup of minestrone, found at many sit-down pizza places, says Lisa Dorfman, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Better Yet: Order a thin crust, light on cheese, with grilled chicken. You get protein, but save fat and calories, says David Goldbeck, coauthor of Healthy Highways: The Traveler's Guide to Healthy Eating (Ceres Press, $16, barnesandnoble.com).
If You Usually Order: Chicken Parmesan with a side of spaghetti.
Make It Healthier: Try grilled chicken on top of pasta. And go local when you can. A mom-and-pop restaurant is more likely than a chain to prepare food the healthful and traditional Mediterranean way (read: less processed).
Better Yet: If you crave pasta, avoid cheese-stuffed varieties (better yet, ask for spaghetti squash), and top it with marinara sauce (as opposed to anything cream-based). As for meat, choose a chicken or fish dish that isn't fried.
If You Usually Order: Tempura vegetables with California and spicy-tuna rolls.
Make It Healthier: Substitute one item with a side of soy―either a serving of miso soup or a bowl of steamed edamame. And limit your starch serving to an amount the size of a tennis ball, says Dorfman.
Better Yet: Avoid anything "tempura," which indicates "fried," and any rolls that contain mayonnaise. Better choices include omega-3-rich fish, like salmon, vegetable rolls, and sushi with avocado, which contains heart-healthy fats.
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If You Usually Order: Samosas, chicken korma, and a side of stuffed naan bread.
Make It Healthier: Replace the fried samosas with a cup of spicy lentil soup and go for an unstuffed naan to dip in chutney or yogurt sauce.
Better Yet: Order chicken tikka, which is grilled without cream sauce as your main course, and snack on lighter pappadams instead of thick naan bread.
If You Usually Order: Tacos, with a side of refried beans and rice.
Make It Healthier: Get vegetarian refried beans (which don't contain artery-clogging lard or pork). Ask for extra guacamole (a source of healthy monounsaturated fat) instead of sour cream.
Better Yet: Choose an item that's wrapped in a soft―not fried―tortilla, such as a burrito. Cram it full of vegetables, go light on the cheese, and add guacamole, which enhances the antioxidant benefits of the salsa.
If You Usually Order: A Whopper with cheese and a side salad.
Make It Healthier: Satisfy your burger craving (and cut out almost 500 calories) by replacing the Whopper with a hamburger from the kids’ menu. (Kids’ menus offer smaller portions.)
Better Yet: Order the Tender Grilled Chicken Sandwich. There’s no crispy fried stuff and no creamy sauce, and you can ask them to double up on the lettuce and tomato for an extra helping of vegetables.
If You Usually Order: Six-piece Chicken McNuggets (with a side of ranch sauce) and large French fries.
Make It Healthier: Ask for medium fries and replace the ranch sauce with barbecue and you've knocked 345 calories off your meal.
Better Yet: Get the California Cobb Salad with grilled chicken. Just beware of what you put on the salad: The Cobb dressing adds 120 calories and 9 grams of fat. Opt for the low-fat balsamic vinaigrette.
If You Usually Order: A loaded baked potato (stuffed with bacon, cheese, low-fat sour cream, and Buttery Best spread) and a small Original Chocolate Frosty.
Make It Healthier: Save 130 calories and 16 grams of fat by loading your potato with chili, low-fat sour cream, and broccoli.
Better Yet: Try a baked potato topped with chili, broccoli, and chives. It is filling, has loads of fiber, and has a mere 370 calories and 3 grams of fat. Add a glass of 1 percent reduced-fat chocolate milk to satisfy a sweet tooth.
If You Usually Order: An Extra Crispy chicken breast and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Make It Healthier: Order an Original Recipe wing and leg (290 calories and 17 grams of fat total). Though white meat seems a wise choice, the breast is one of the worst items on the menu, with 460 calories and 28 grams of fat.
Better Yet: Get the Grilled Chicken. It has only 180 calories and 4 grams of fat for a chicken breast.
If You Usually Order: Chalupas (fried taco shells filled with cheese and ground beef).
Make It Healthier: Avoid the crispy things in favor of soft tortillas, says Leslie Bonci, director of sports medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. (Indeed, the word crispy is often a euphemism for "fried.")
Better Yet: Order food "Fresco-Style," which replaces a dish's normal sauce and cheese with fresh salsa. Loading up on salsa instead of cheese and other sauces can save you hundreds of calories and 10 or more grams of fat.
If You Usually Order: A classic tuna sandwich with Cheddar cheese and potato chips.
Make It Healthier: Get a wheat roll, and add extra vegetables. If you can't omit the cheese, know that American cheese is the lowest-fat option, followed by provolone, with Swiss and Cheddar tied for last. Choose baked chips.
Better Yet: Subway's tuna salad contains lots of mayonnaise, so a less cholesterol-raising option would be the Veggie Delite or Turkey-Breast Sandwich from the "6 Grams of Fat or Less" side of the menu.