Last updated on November 13th, 2023 at 09:45 AM
Many of us love ordering a lazy takeaway to eat on the sofa after a long week at work – but the treat can easily see us consuming hidden calories in their hundreds and sometimes thousands.
Takeaway foods like pizzas, burgers and curries with all the extras aren’t exactly known for their health benefits and they can often be laden with excess salt and saturated fat.
In an effort to curb the growing obesity crisis, Public Health England are urging takeaway and delivery suppliers to voluntarily cut calories by as much as 20% over the next four years. The move comes as it’s estimated that around 1 in every 4 adults and around 1 in every 5 children aged 10 to 11 are obese in the UK.
Until widespread change comes into place, there are ways you can enjoy a less calorie-laden takeaway – and it doesn’t mean crunching on salad or missing out entirely. Here, we asked nutritionists to share some easy tips for slashing the high-fat, fast foods.
1. Mix and match
Newsflash: if you’re ordering a takeaway and you have a perfectly good kitchen nearby, you don’t need to buy a whole meal. “If you’re ordering a curry, you can serve it with some cooked vegetables at home rather than ordering fried rice,” says nutritionist Jenna Hope, who adds that this will save you and your family both calories and money in the long-run.
“Equally if you’re opting for pizza, add your own vegetable-based toppings rather than opting for extra cheese or the restaurant’s unhealthy added extras,” says Hope. “I’d suggest avoiding stuffed crusts too and opt for the thinner crusts to save on unnecessary calories.”
2. Avoid the added ‘extras’
All those starters and side-dishes can add a lot of extra saturated fat and calories into your meal. As a reminder, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.
“Often, there’s no need to go for the dough balls, naan bread or extra dips when you’re ordering a takeaway,” says Hope. Usually you’ll find that a main meal is more than enough to fill you up without leaving you with that uncomfortable bloated feeling.”
3. Pass on the desserts
Meal deals can often trick us into buying more food than we need as we’re convinced we’re getting a good deal. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, buying dessert can add hundreds of calories onto your overall total.
“If you’re ordering a takeaway at home there’s no need to buy the brownies which are advertised along with the main,” stresses Hope. “Getting into the habit of buying dessert with every takeaway can quickly add up on the calories.”
4. Drink water instead of a sugary beverages
No surprises here. “Fizzy drinks are packed with empty calories,” says Charlotte Bierens, head of nutrition at complete meal brand Jimmy Joy. Plus, they’re high in sugars which can wreak havoc on your teeth and skin, and can increase your risk of developing diabetes in the long-run.
“Instead, try to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water during a takeaway meal,” suggests Bierens
5. Ask for dressings and sauces to be served on the side
When it comes to losing weight every calorie counts, and the simplest thing like adding mayonnaise or kebab shop chilli sauce can hike up your count.
“Most of the time you’ll be able to add your own dressing or sauce for far fewer calories,” says Hope, who recommends buying low-fat alternatives from the supermarket and keeping them in the fridge.
If your local takeaway has a secret sauce that you simply can’t live without, then ask them to serve it in a container on the side. “You’re more in control of the portion size when you add the sauces yourself,” says Hope, who believes this trick can shave thousands of calories off your Saturday night treat.