A home-cooked meal will always be healthier than a takeout, but what do you do when you find yourself on the road and needing a quick fix?
While it goes without saying that takeaway foods shouldn’t become a staple in your diet, it is possible to make healthier choices, and many fast food companies are responding to the demand from increasingly health-conscious consumers by adding whole grain, low fat and low sodium items to their menus.
Dietician Anne London points out that a few simple strategies like cutting down on condiments and sauces, avoiding deep fried foods and choosing drinks with no added sugar can make a big difference when eating out.
“When offered a choice of size, always opt for the smaller portion,” she advises. “Try to select dishes that have more vegetables and leaner meats. Vegetables are nutritious and low in calories, and leaner meats such as chicken, fish and turkey tend to contain fewer calories than red meats.”
She also suggests looking for a grocery store or deli that has a prepared food section like a soup or salad bar, which is often healthier than fast food, but still quick and economical.
So the next time you find yourself strapped for time and needing a quick fix, consider the following options to get a real energy boost rather than a short-lived sugar high.
Wraps can make nutritious snacks or meals – it’s all about choosing your ingredients wisely. Look for wraps that contain plenty of fresh produce like tomatoes, onions and avocado, and choose lean grilled meats like chicken or turkey.
Also opt for condiments and sauces that aren’t too rich, like sesame ginger or cilantro salsa, as sour cream or mayo-based sauces can quickly bring up the calorie count.
2. Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole
While tortilla chips aren’t as nutritious as some things, they can pack a healthy punch when paired fresh salsa and guacamole. Avocados contain important vitamins and nutrients like vitamin B6 and folic acid which are essential for heart health and tomatoes are rich in antioxidants.
Blue corn tortilla chips are particularly nutritious, and research shows that they contain less starch and 20% more protein, making them a great energy boosting snack.
3. Yoghurt and fruit
If you have a craving for something sweet, yoghurt and fruit can be a winning combo. Yoghurt contains probiotics which promote digestion, and fruit takes care of your sweet tooth while still supplying you with vitamins and nutrients.
Yoghurt and fruit are easy to find at most fast food joints, but try to avoid those have been pre-sweetened or stick to the ones that contain natural sweeteners like honey.
Even a salad can be unhealthy if it’s loaded with sodium and slathered in fattening dressings like thousand island or blue cheese.
Make sure your salads consist primarily of fresh vegetables (rather than croutons, processed meats or batter fried fish or chicken), choose leaner proteins like feta or tuna, and stick with a simple vinaigrette or olive oil dressing.
Smoothies make the perfect grab and go snack, and as long as they don’t contain added sugar they can be very healthy too. A good smoothy should contain fibre, protein and fruit in order to keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal.
Look for smoothies that boast nourishing ingredients like wholegrain cereals, berries, bananas, pineapples, almonds, soy, quinoa, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, ginger and cinnamon.
Thanks to ingredients like seaweed, steamed rice and salmon or tuna which contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, sushi is usually fairly healthy no matter how you eat it. But there are still certain dishes and sides that are worse than others.
For example, spider rolls contain mayonnaise, and although condiments like wasabi and pickled ginger can be quite healthy, it’s best to skip the soy sauce as even just one tablespoon can contain up to 1000 milligrams of sodium.
7. Dumplings or spring rolls
Dumplings and spring rolls aren’t generally very healthy because they tend to be deep fried. But if you can find dumplings or spring rolls that have been steamed instead, these savoury treats can actually be nutritious thanks to the lean meats and vegetables they contain.
A cup of soup can make an excellent winter snack, but if you’re looking for a pick-me-up on a cold day, keep in mind that the type of soup you choose does matter. Hearty soups like minestrone or roast tomato and basil will be far healthier than creamy ones like clam chowder.
9. Baked stuffed potatoes
Baked potatoes can be found almost anywhere from fast food franchises to fine dining menus. So instead of splurging on a portion of greasy chips, try a baked potato stuffed with goodness like mushrooms and French onions or broccoli and parmesan.
Potatoes can also help you feel fuller for longer, so you’ll keep your energy levels high while also reducing the number of snacks you eat throughout the day.
Opt for whole grain bread whenever possible, and add fresh vegetables like lettuce, tomato or cucumber. Also try to choose leaner toppings like roast beef, grilled chicken or tuna, and swap the mayonnaise for mustard, pesto or hummus.
What do you eat when you’re out and about or on the road? SHARE with us in the comments below.
Main image courtesy of Shutterstock.com