The busy American lifestyle isn’t going to slow down any time soon. With many people working a full day only to come home to several more hours of childcare and housework, it’s understandable that they don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing supper. American workers also routinely go out to lunch, with dozens of fast food restaurants appearing around the typical office building to accommodate them.
While ordering takeout or calling for delivery is certainly convenient, it doesn’t always provide good nutrition. It’s up to food consumers to make the healthiest choices for themselves in these situations.
A Different Way of Thinking About Calories
The advice to count calories, eat less, and move more has long been the traditional advice from the American medical community. Unfortunately, it rarely works in practice because what a person eats is far more important than the number of calories he or she consumes.
One reason is that foods high in carbohydrates have a greater impact on body weight and metabolism than other types of food. A person can limit calories but still gain weight over time consuming this type of food. On the other hand, certain high-calorie foods can prevent diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Dark chocolate, nuts, and olive oil are just three examples. After years of the same mantra, the medical community and the American public are slowly realizing that eat less and move more is far too simplified since what people eats determines how many calories they can burn off.
Better Choices to Make When Ordering Take Out or Delivery
When ordering from a restaurant that serves typical American fare, it’s a good idea to focus on protein by ordering four to six ounces of meat, eggs, tofu, chicken, or fish. Customers can also request the cook to prepare their vegetables in olive oil and to serve full-fat dressing on their salad. Whole grains and dark chocolate, nuts, or berries for desert can round out the meal. When it comes to the all-American favorite of pizza, sticking to a thin crust with vegetable toppings is the healthiest possible choice.
Suggestions for healthy cuisine from other cultures:
- Chinese: Since most Chinese dishes come mixed with a serving of rice or noodles, opting for brown rice over noodles or white rice can make a big difference. Brown rice is an excellent source of fiber and protein. Additionally, choose steam preparation and add as many vegetables to the dish as possible for the greatest health benefit.
- Greek, Italian, or Mediterranean: Diners should be certain to select a non-breaded type of meat or opt for fish or chicken. The healthiest salad options for these types of cuisine include lentil, hummus, Greek, or Caprese. Side dishes can include tabbouleh made from bulgur wheat, olives and feta, or olive tapenade with unsweetened Greek yogurt and fruit for dessert.
- Mexican: Instead of ordering a fajita in a tortilla, diners can request the ingredients of the fajita served inside of a lettuce leaf. Another option is to receive all the contents of a burrito in a bowl and skip the tortilla altogether. Healthier options to request in a tortilla or burrito include brown rice, black bean or chili soup, or guacamole with snappy vegetables such as cucumbers or radishes.
While ordering takeout or delivery shouldn’t become the default option, it’s still possible to eat healthy and enjoy the convenience it offers.