Healthy takeaways this holiday – it is possible!

Posted on 5 December 2013

Here’s how to eat healthier over the festive season when eating out may be the choice you’re faced with. Irene Labuschagne, principal dietitian at the Nutrition Information Centre of the University of Stellenbosch, shares some useful tips.

My family loves pizza and I know there will be one or two nights where we order in or visit our favourite pizza restaurant. What toppings should I choose for a healthier meal?
If you’re watching what you eat, then order the thin-crusted pizza and ask for half the cheese with more vegetable toppings. Remember, all the yummy toppings like pepperoni, salami, bacon and extra cheese mean you’ll pile on the energy (kilojoules) and fat. Go for onions, chillies, mushrooms, tuna, sardines, anchovies, peppers, spinach, roasted vegetables, olives, chicken, tomato and pineapple, banana instead. You could also share a pizza and salad, as this will reduce the energy density of the meal. If pasta tempts your tastebuds, order wholewheat (where available) with a tomato-based sauce and vegetables. Avoid cream or butter-based sauces.

I feel like Asian tonight, what should I order and what should I avoid?
It’s a good idea to try and avoid fried foods like sweet-and-sour battered pork or spring rolls. Rather order steamed dishes – even stir-fries are healthier because they’re lower in fat and are made with vegetables. You could also order clear soups (tom yum), steamed dumplings, chicken chop suey. Go for boiled rice and ask for low-sodium sauce with your sushi.

Thai curries contain coconut milk, which are high in saturated fat. If you choose a curry, try not to eat all the sauce and order extra vegetables instead of rice or noodles. Avoid fried noodles.

What about sushi?
Sushi is also a healthy choice because fatty fish contains good omega-3 fats and there’s no frying involved in the preparation. Although pieces wrapped in layers of tuna and avocado may be higher in fat than others, they still measure up well against many other fast-food choices. Tuna or cucumber maki rolls are even lower in kilojoules and fat. You can always spice things up with a touch of fat- and sodium-free wasabi, and make sure you ask for low-sodium soy sauce.

And Indian food?
Once again to reduce the amount of fat in your meal you’ll need to choose dishes with tomato-based sauces, such as jalfrezi, rogan josh and madras, and order plenty of vegetables, including lentil side dishes. Chicken, fish or vegetables are healthier than beef or lamb – both meats are much higher in calories.  Another good option is dry dishes like tandoori chicken. ?Avoid any creamy curries such as korma, pasanda, makhani, butter chicken or masala, as well as fried side dishes like bhajis, pakoras and poppadoms.
Order steamed rice instead of pilau, or chapati rather than naan breads for a healthy option.

Did you know?
1.    Many of the spices associated with Indian cuisine have significant health benefits. Cumin and mustard seeds are believed to aid digestion, while coriander has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce cholesterol.
2.    Chilli is great for your overall health and has been linked to pain relief, weight loss and even increased cardiovascular health.
3.    Garlic is versatile and has a number of health benefits, too – its anti-oxidant properties help reduce cholesterol, promote a healthy immune system function, lower blood pressure and strengthen the body’s defences.

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The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Nutrition