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How to cut the calories in your takeaway

publication date: Jul 29, 2007
author/source: Kerry Torrens
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Whether it’s traditional fish and chips, a Chinese, home-delivered pizzas or the national dish of chicken tikka masala we all fancy a takeaway every now and then but what should we choose to avoid piling on the pounds?

We all know how easy it is to succumb to a "super sized" burger; those tempting extras like garlic bread with our pizza; poppadoms and samosas with our curry and too much meat at the expense of salad in our kebab but how do these meals really fare in the nutrition stakes?

Well eat just one slice of a large deep pan pepperoni pizza and you consume 430 calories and a quarter of your daily fat allowance; a Burger King XL Double Whopper lives up to its name, packing in 840 calories and over two thirds of your recommended fat intake and a Big Mac with fries whacks in at just under 700 calories and half your daily fat intake. Takeaway foods are also low in fibre and high in salt: in fact a Kentucky fried chicken with fries provides just under half your recommended daily salt intake.

So what should you select so you can enjoy your takeaway without revealing your indulgence on your waistline? Thankfully as well as their monster meals many of the fast food outlets are now promoting "healthier" options though not all of these are quite as healthy as they seem. You need to watch the dressing on salads, for example and go easy on the croutons.

As a general guide follow the tips below:

  • When ordering pizza choose a small or medium rather than a large pizza and opt for a thin crust rather than a thick one. Toppings such as chicken, seafood and vegetables are much healthier than high fat toppings like salami or lashings of cheese; by adding extra veggies you’ll be notching up one of your recommended five a day! If you prefer pasta steer clear of the cream and cheese sauces. Choose those which are tomato or vegetable based and ask for a side salad instead of the garlic bread.
  • In a Chinese restaurant select stir fry vegetables with chicken or seafood and steamed rice; avoid the fried foods including prawn crackers, spring rolls and fried rice.
  • When having a curry favour the drier dishes such as tandoori chicken or a tomato based curry sauce such as rogan josh in preference to a cream based korma. Select side dishes like dal, saag or raita, opt for plain boiled rice instead of pilau and steer clear of the naan
  • In a Thai restaurant order light tom yum soup instead of spring rolls or other fried starters; grilled beef or chicken salads and stir fry vegetables are better options than creamy green or red curries or rich satay dishes.
  • Kebabs are reasonably healthy because they’re grilled and tend to be served with plenty of salad but avoid high fat extras such as cheese. Any additional sauces or marinades may also be high in salt or sugars.

If you do indulge in the odd burger or fish and chip supper then cut down on your fat intake from other foods during the day and try to eat some vegetables and salad alongside your meal.

And whatever the takeaway obviously exercise a bit of common sense about the size of meal you order unless you want to turn into a ‘super-sized me’.


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